If you’re looking for another reason to add dark chocolate to the list of heart healthy foods that you should consume for good health, you may be excited by recent research from Australia. The researchers of the study, published in BMJ, found that the benefits of dark chocolate consumption can be beneficial in reducing the risk of cardiovascular events, such as a heart attack, in individuals with metabolic syndrome.
Previous research has shown that dark chocolate consumption may have good health benefits including supporting healthier blood pressure and decreased cholesterol levels. However, previous research has only looked at short-term benefits. The researchers of the current study wanted to look at the possible long term benefits of consuming dark chocolate daily over a period of 10 years.
Chocolate as a Heart Healthy Food
The researchers studied data of 2013 participants with hypertension (high blood pressure) who met the criteria for metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. None of the participants in this study had a history of cardiovascular disease and none were receiving treatment for their hypertension. The researchers developed a mathematical model to predict the effects and cost effectiveness of dark chocolate consumption daily in these high-risk individuals, over 10 years.
The researchers found that eating 100g of dark chocolate daily can reduce cardiovascular events, including heart attack, by 85 per 10,000 over a period of 10 years. The researchers state that a relatively small financial investment of $40 per year per person would be an effective prevention strategy to prevent cardiovascular events, including heart attack in high risk populations. They state that the $40 per year can be used for advertising, educational campaigns and possibly subsidizing the purchase of dark chocolate for high-risk individuals. The researchers state that the decreased number of cardiovascular events, including heart attack, are based on 100% of high-risk individuals following the treatment protocol. Compliance with this treatment protocol is promising as most people would find the dark chocolate appealing because of its’ pleasant taste and lack of potential negative side effects. However, even if there are some individuals that do not comply with the treatment protocol of 100g of dark chocolate daily, the good health benefits are still positive.
Dark Chocolate for Overall Good Health
Dark chocolate is derived from cocoa beans and is rich in polyphenols which have many good health benefits. All of these good health benefits help to support the heart. Dark chocolate, which is at least 60-70% cocoa, should be added to the other heart healthy foods that you consume in your diet, especially if you are in a high-risk category for heart disease including heart attack. The researchers note that the good health benefits found in this study only apply to dark chocolate and not to milk and/or white chocolate.
The findings from this research are exciting – adding heart healthy foods, including dark chocolate, to a heart healthy lifestyle is an easy step in the prevention and treatment of heart disease. It is a simple step to achieve good health and also helps to protect against heart attack. Many people already incorporate heart healthy foods as part of their normal diet, adding dark chocolate to the mix of foods looks like it could have good health benefits, so why not snack on some chocolate?