Eating chocolate 'can cut heart attack and stroke risk'

Eating just one square of chocolate a day can cut the risk of heart attack and stroke by 39%, researchers said today.

Eating 7.5g of chocolate daily also leads to lower blood pressure, a study found.



Researchers in Germany followed 19,357 people aged between 35 and 65 for at least a decade.



Those who ate the most amount of chocolate - an average of 7.5g a day - had lower chances of heart attacks and stroke than those who ate the least amount (1.7g a day on average).



The difference between the two groups amounted to 6g of chocolate - less than one square of a 100g bar.



The study, published in the European Heart Journal, concluded that if those people who ate the least chocolate increased their intake by 6g a day there would be fewer heart attacks and strokes.



Of those who ate the least chocolate, there were 219 strokes or heart attacks per 10,000 people but there could be 85 fewer if they ate 7.5g a day on average, researchers said.



Those who ate the most chocolate had a 27% reduced risk of heart attacks and nearly half (48%) the risk of strokes compared with those eating the least amount.



Eating chocolate lowered blood pressure, which accounted for some of the reduced risk, but falls were seen in heart attacks and strokes even when this was taken into account.



Dr Brian Buijsse, a nutritional epidemiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition, Nuthetal, Germany, who led the research, said: "People who ate the most amount of chocolate were at a 39% lower risk than those with the lowest chocolate intakes.



"If the 39% lower risk is generalised to the general population, the number of avoidable heart attacks and strokes could be higher because the absolute risk in the general population is higher."



However, he warned people against eating too much chocolate and putting on weight or cutting down the amount of healthy foods they eat.



"Small amounts of chocolate may help to prevent heart disease, but only if it replaces other energy-dense food, such as snacks, in order to keep body weight stable," he said.



Cocoa beans contain flavanols, which are thought to have an effect on lowering blood pressure.



The experts said dark chocolate has more flavanols than milk chocolate and is therefore likely to be more beneficial.



Frank Ruschitzka, from the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), said: "Basic science has demonstrated quite convincingly that dark chocolate particularly, with a cocoa content of at least 70%, reduces oxidative stress and improves vascular and platelet function.



"However, before you rush to add dark chocolate to your diet, be aware that 100g of dark chocolate contains roughly 500 calories.



"As such, you may want to subtract an equivalent amount of calories, by cutting back on other foods, to avoid weight gain."



Victoria Taylor, senior heart health dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said: "This sounds like a dream for chocolate lovers and just in time for Easter too, but it's important to read the small print with this study.



"The amounts consumed on average by even the highest consumers was about one square of chocolate a day or half a small chocolate Easter egg in a week, so the benefits were associated with a fairly small amount of chocolate.



"Some people will be tempted to eat more than one square, however.



"Chocolate has high amounts of calories and saturated fat which are linked to weight gain and raised cholesterol levels - two of the key risk factors for heart disease.



"So whilst chocolate, in moderation, can form part of a heart healthy diet it is important to remember to include a variety of other foods including fruit and vegetables and oily fish, as well as getting out and being active for at least 30 minutes a day."

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

    Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

    £16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

    Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

    £7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

    Day In a Page

    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
    How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

    How to find gold

    Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
    Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

    Not born in the USA

    Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
    10 best balsamic vinegars

    10 best balsamic vinegars

    Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
    Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy