“Two chocolate bars a day can SLASH the risk of heart disease and stroke”
The Daily Mirror
That’s right – eating chocolate may have unexpected health benefits!
The media has been full of the news that, hallelujah, chocolate may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases like stroke.
But hold your horses. The media has gotten a little carried away!
Indeed, a study of Norfolk residents into how chocolate affects cardiovascular health, by the University of Aberdeen and funded by the Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK, did reveal that chocolate may slightly reduce your risk of a stroke. A comparison of the highest consumers of chocolate with those that abstain from eating it revealed that chocolate consumption was linked to lower risk of stroke and other cardiovascular disease.
The report concluded that:
“There does not appear to be any evidence to say that chocolate should be avoided in those who are concerned about cardiovascular risk”
The difference was slight, though, and is not conclusive enough to take definitive conclusions. There is a strong possibility that benefits linked to chocolate may just be a by-product of a generally healthy lifestyle. After all, as NHS Choices reported, “higher chocolate consumption was associated with lower age, more physical activity and lower prevalence of diabetes mellitus.”
There is no getting over the fact that the large amounts of fat and sugar in chocolate can contribute to weight gain. If you are already overweight, eating lots of chocolate will probably make the problem worse.
Independent expert, Dr. Tim Chico, is not convinced by the research. He agreed that if your were a healthy weight, he couldn’t see eating chocolate in moderation detectable in increasing the risk of heart disease, but he “would not advise [my] patients to increase their chocolate intake based on this research, particularly if they are overweight.”
Chocolate, and particularly dark chocolate, contains flavonoids, plant chemicals that are proven to have antioxidant properties. Many speculate that these antioxidants promote good health and help keep the heart and blood vessels healthy.
The general message to take away from all this, we think, is that if you’re generally healthy and active, a little extra chocolate won’t do any harm. But if you are already overweight or experiencing health issues related to obesity, chocolate should be avoided as much as possible. Being overweight and obesity are directly linked to poor cardiovascular health and conditions like coronary disease and stroke.
Want to know more about how you can stay healthy and lose weight? Talk to your GP or visit NHS Choices for helpful tips and advice.