The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2030, nearly 23.6 million people will die from heart disease. However, lifestyle and diet are key factors in preventing heart disease, says the paper presented today by Dr Oscar Franco at the ESC Congress 2011.
A number of recent studies have shown that eating chocolate has a positive influence on human health due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This includes reducing blood pressure and improving insulin
sensitivity (a stage in the development of diabetes).
However, the evidence about how eating chocolate affects your heart still remains unclear. So, Dr Oscar Franco and colleagues from the University of Cambridge carried out a large scale review of the existing evidence to evaluate the effects of eating chocolate on cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke.
They analysed the results of seven studies, involving over 100,000 participants, on this topic. Differences in study design and quality were taken into account to minimise bias.
Five studies reported a beneficial link between higher levels of chocolate consumption and the risk of cardiovascular events and they found that the highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29% reduction in stroke compared with lowest levels.
The studies did not differentiate between dark or milk chocolate and included consumption of chocolate bars, drinks, biscuits and desserts.
The authors say the findings need to be interpreted with caution, in particular because commercially available chocolate is very calorific (around 500 calories for every 100 grams) and eating too much of it could in itself lead to weight gain, risk of diabetes and heart disease.
However, they conclude that, given the health benefits of eating chocolate, initiatives to reduce the current fat and sugar content in most chocolate products, without affecting the taste sensation, should be explored.
Oscar H. Franco, MD, DSc, PhD, FESC. And :
Adriana Buitrago-Lopez, RN, Jean Sanderson, PhD, Laura Johnson, PhD, Samantha Warnakula MSc, Angela Wood, PhD, Emanuele Di Angelantonio, MD, PhD, John Danesh, MD, PhD
Professor Franco Duran, Oscar (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
The study is published online by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) today. http://www.bmj.com/The findings will be presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress in Paris at 10:10 hrs (Paris time) / 09:10 hrs (UK time) on Monday 29 August 2011