Chocolate For Your Good Health

Chocolate has been getting a lot of attention lately from doctors, fitness experts and athletes. It is not only delicious but it also seems to deliver major heart health benefits. Could Godiva become tax deductible?

The latest good news comes from a report published in the British Medical Journal. Researchers from Great Britain and Columbia studied previous medical studies that involved chocolate and cardiovascular health. They reviewed the results of seven studies, comprising over 114,000 participants. They were able to correlate chocolate consumption with changes in long-term health.

Cardiovascular diseases are a leading cause of adult death. Metabolic syndrome, a catch-all term for cardiovascular diseases and type II diabetes, is thought to affect about 20% of adults today-+. Many of the underlying drivers for metabolic syndrome are related to lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise. Clearly, anything that can improve these statistics is a good thing.

Since “we are what we eat” it makes sense to study the impact of various foods on our health. This study focused on chocolate consumption, and attempted to eliminate other factors such as exercise, smoking and other diet differences.

The analysis separated the study participants into low and high chocolate consumption groups. The incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke was collected for these two groups. The differences between the two groups were attributed to chocolate consumption.

The group that ate a higher level of chocolate enjoyed a 33% lower risk of cardio-metabolic disorders. That broke down as a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease, a 31$ reduction in type II diabetes and a 29% reduction in stroke. The only area that was studied that did not show an improvement was in heart failure.

This was not a perfect study. There has not yet been a classic, double-blind study, where participants and researchers do not know which pills contain chocolate and which pills contain a placebo. How would you make a chocolate placebo, and would it be delicious? Without this level of rigor, scientists are cautious when they report their results.

Eating chocolate also has some down side. Eating too much chocolate can cause weight gain, a key driver for metabolic syndrome. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? Moderation seems to be the key, striking the balance between getting enough chocolate to help out without eating so much that you hurt yourself.

So, is chocolate the answer? Cocoa products have been eaten for hundreds of years, so it is unlikely that a new dangerous side effect will be discovered. This study reinforces other research that seems to indicate that chocolate in moderation has health benefits. Plus, it is delicious. Maybe you should drizzle some over your fresh fruits at dinner tonight. It can’t hurt!

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