Chocolate and health aren’t normally two things that we think of going hand in hand. Generally speaking, our favorite sweet belongs at the top of the food pyramid, along with fats, oils, and other items that experts say should be used sparingly.
That’s why we tend to feel guilty after eating things like brownies, ice cream, cake, or anything that feeds our chocolate addiction.
However, if you identify as a chocolate addict, or even just like the stuff, a study published by BMJ Journals has some very good news for you.
The research concluded that middle-aged respondents who recorded eating a higher quantity of chocolate per week showed a lower risk for cardiovascular disease.
That’s right, as it turns out, a little more chocolate in your diet might be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Still, it’s important to learn exactly what this could mean for your heart health before you go raiding the candy aisle.
Thumbnail Photo: Flickr / Integrated Change
The observational study was conducted using a massive sample of 20,951 men and women who filled out comprehensive questionnaires detailing their eating habits.
The results were recorded, and the respondent’s health was tracked over time.
The study yielded some very interesting results. Apparently, those who had more chocolate in their diets were at a significantly lower risk for cardiovascular complications.
According to Harvard Health, the study also amazingly found that the chocolate eaters tended to be less overweight and have lower rates of artery-damaging inflammation.
There are a number of heart-related risks that can lead to a shorter and less healthy life.
The American Heart Association lists arrhythmia, cholesterol, heart attack, heart failure, high blood pressure, and stroke all as conditions.
The AHA outlines a number of diet and lifestyle recommendations to prevent the development of a heart condition.
Above all, they suggest burning as many calories as possible, and eating a variety of foods from different groups to maintain a balanced diet.
Again, chocolate isn’t the first thing you think of when you hear the words “balanced diet.”
You may have heard that dark chocolate does have some health benefits in moderation, but this study doesn’t discriminate when it comes to types of chocolate.
In fact, Harvard Health explains that milk chocolate seemed to have the same beneficial effects in this particular study.
Scientists speculate that flavonoids, which are an antioxidant found in the cacao beans that make chocolate, might be responsible.
Harvard Health even goes as far as saying:
Flavonoids in cocoa have been shown to help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, prevent blood clots, and fight cell damage. They’ve also been shown to help thinking skills.
So, if you want an excuse to incorporate more chocolate into your diet, Harvard Health explains the quantity consumed by these heart healthier respondents is up to 3.5 ounces per day. That’s more than two Hershey’s bars!
The study concludes, “There does not appear to be any evidence to say that chocolate should be avoided in those who are concerned about cardiovascular risk.”
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