As if there was ever a reason to eat more chocolate – there seems to be yet another.
While many of us already defend the cheeky treat for its antioxidants, improvement of brain function and just how great it tastes, a new longitudinal study is giving more reasons why chocolate might be even better than once thought.
The study has linked chocolate consumption to the improvement of cardiovascular function. In other words, chocolate may assist with cardiovascular disease and decreasing the risk of heart attack.
Published in the journal Heart, researchers observed 2,000 individuals living in Norfolk, England and its surrounds. They detailed the eating habits, lifestyle and health of the adults for an average period of 12 years.
The participants were divided into categories based on their chocolate consumption. The individuals ate between 16 to 100 grams of chocolate a day at the top end of the scale – that’s about the size of a little chocolate bar. On the other end of the scale, individuals ate almost no chocolate at all, averaging just over a gram a day.
But it gets interesting – chocolate-eaters in the first group were over 10 per cent less likely to run into cardiovascular issues than the non-chocolate participants. These individuals were less likely to have a heart attack or stroke and were a whopping 25 per cent less inclined to suffer or die from cardiovascular disease compared to their counter-parts.
Now, this isn’t to suggest that chowing down on as much chocolate as possible is the secret to a healthy heart, as nice as that might be. In the case of this study, chocolate and its connection to cardiovascular health could also include other factors not detailed in the study.
The participants, who consumed greater amounts of chocolate also, on average, participated more in sport and physical activity than the non-chocolate participants.
But this is good news too if you’re prepared to mix in a little exercise with your cheeky chocolate munching.
While previous studies have made links between chocolate and antioxidants that improve blood pressure, brain function and a bring range of other benefits, this study showed that there are actually different “grades” of chocolate.
In this case, chocolate consumed by participants was mostly creamy and contained more milk which indicates it has lesser amounts of antioxidants and is often quite sweet.
Now, this might cause you to think, “but isn’t dark chocolate the healthy option?”
The fact is that chocolate in large quantities is not ideal – the sugar component alone can wreak havoc on your body’s immune system and insulin control. However, moderation, as always, is central to being able to enjoy a treat without impacting your health.
In the case of this study, there is more to find out about the benefits of chocolate than we originally thought! But at least you can rest assured that when it comes to chocolate, we have a few excuses for a cheeky treat.