A Chocolate Egg Per Day May Keep the Heart Doctor Away

Eating as little as a quarter of an ounce of chocolate each day—an amount equal to about one small Easter egg—may lower your risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke, a new study has found.

For best results, the chocolate should be dark, experts say.

“Dark chocolate exhibits the greatest effects, milk chocolate fewer, and white chocolate no effects,” says the lead author of the study, Brian Buijsse, a nutritional epidemiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition, in Nuthetal, Germany.

Chocolate

Chocolate

In the study, Buijsse and his colleagues followed nearly 20,000 people for an average of eight years. The researchers surveyed the study participants about their chocolate consumption (as well as the rest of their diet), and also tracked the heart attacks and strokes that occurred in the group.

Compared to people who rarely ate chocolate (about one bar per month), the people who ate the most chocolate (slightly more than one bar per week) had a 27% and 48% reduced risk of heart attack and stroke, respectively, the researchers found.

The heart benefits observed in the study may be due in part to lower blood pressure, the study notes. Previous studies have suggested that eating chocolate can lower blood pressure, and the researchers observed a similar—though less pronounced—association in this study.

“The good news is that chocolate is not as bad as we used to think, and may even lower the risk of heart disease and stroke,” says Buijsse. “The bad news, at least for some of us, is that the amounts that are needed to benefit from these effects appear to be quite low.”

In other words, these findings don’t mean that you should stuff yourself with chocolate Easter eggs. Chocolate is high in calories, and, as with any such food, eating too much of it can swell your waistline and harm your health in other ways.

“This is only one small egg per day,” says Buijsse. “Eating higher amounts will most likely result in weight gain. If people start eating small amounts of chocolate, it should replace something else, preferably other high-calorie sweets or snacks.”

source: news.health.com

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