The study, conducted by German researchers, followed over 19,000 adults for 10 years. The participants received medical checkups at the start of the study in 1994-1998, and every two to three years filled out questionnaires about how often they ate chocolate, and how much they tended to eat.
Researchers found that people who ate the most chocolate - an average of 7.5 grams a day, or about one square of a chocolate bar - had lower blood pressure and a 39 percent lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke compared to those who ate the least amount of chocolate - an average of 1.7 grams a day.
While the findings didn't specify which type of chocolate had the biggest impact, researchers suspect the benefits of chocolate seen in the study are a result of the high flavanol content of cocoa. Flavanols are a type of antioxidant found in chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa, such as dark chocolate. Most healthy eating recommendations suggest choosing a dark chocolate bar with at least 70 percent cocoa for maximum health benefits.
Researchers warn that while the findings are promising, it doesn't give license to overindulge when it comes to the sweet stuff. Researchers suggest people hoping to benefit from chocolate's heart healthy effects should cut out other snacks and sweets to avoid weight gain. They warn that despite the health benefits, eating too much chocolate will have negative effects that far outweigh the positive effects of cocoa.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.