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Could Eating A Small Amount Of Chocolate Reduce Your Risk Of Stroke & Heart Attack?

Posted Mar 31 2010 9:41am

Each year 200,000 people in the UK die from cardiovacular disease. Now a new study by the German Institute of Human Nutrition brings hope that this can be reduced in a surprising & simple way, by regularly eating small amounts of chocolate!

The research involved looking at the health – including diet - of over 19,000 participants aged between thirty five & sixty five, over a minimum period of ten years. It found that  eating just a small amount of chocolate on a daily basis resulted in lower blood pressure, with a consequent reduction in the incidence of stroke, & - to a lesser extent – heart attack. It is the flavanols in the cocoa which are thought to be the active ingredient. They work by increasing  the supply of nitric acid in the body, & this in turn helps lower blood pressure & increase blood flow around the brain. Dark chocolate with its higher cocoa content is thought to have more impact as it contains higher levels of flavanols.

In spite of what seem like really good health benefits, it is important to realize that these apply to a very low intake – on average equal to one square of chocolate per day. However, people who ate approximately 7.5 grams of chocolate per day had a 39% lower risk of stroke or heart attack than those who ate only 1.7 grams. Eating large amounts of chocolate would be likely to prove counterproductive, given the high levels of saturated fat they contain, as well as their high calorific value. The potentially high cholesterol levels - as well as the increase in body weight - that could result from eating lots of chocolate, need to be borne in mind.

Further  research will be required to establish the viability of harnessing this as a preventative treatment. In the meantime its essential  - as ever - to have a healthy balanced diet & plenty of exercise to promote a healthy body. And perhaps one little square of chocolate a day won’t go amiss……………!


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