Heart Attack Risks Reduced By Eating Chocolate, But Doctors Aren’t Sure Why

Heart attack risks can be reduced with the consumption of chocolate, doctors say; they’re just not sure why.

According to Forbes, the heart attack study done by the EPIC-Norfolk group with about 21,000 participants, which studied connections between diet and long-term health regarding heart attacks. Researchers at the University of Aberdeen found that those who consumed 100 grams of chocolate, or two chocolate bars, had an 11 percent lower risk of heart attack or cardiovascular disease and a 25 percent lower risk of cardiovascular related deaths than those who consumed no chocolate whatsoever. The results were published in the British medical journal Heart, a peer-reviewed journal.

While researchers were not surprised by the results with dark chocolate, because other studies had shown similar results, the researchers were surprised that they found similar results with milk chocolate, as well. “Milk chocolate was more frequently consumed than dark chocolate in this cohort,” the authors write. “However, we still observed a reduced risk of [cardiovascular disease or heart attack].”

The researchers expanded their study to include the results of eight other studies, and found that participants who ate the most chocolate reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease or heart attack by 25 percent and related risks by 45 percent.

The results, however, may be a bit skewed. One, the other studies included questionnaires, which may result in a misrepresentation of what participants ate. Two, since the last study was observational, heart attack cause-and-effect cannot be concretely established.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Norfolk, England, study showed that the group that consumed the most chocolate, be it milk or dark, had not only a lower risk of heart attack or stroke, but also a lower risk of systolic numbers, lower inflammation rates, lower body mass indexes, and lower rates of diabetes. This group also participated in more physical exercise.

Now, however, there are those in the medical community is calling for less observational studies and more in-depth heart attack studies. Dr. Farzaneh Aghdassi Sorond of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston wants studies to find out if it is indeed the chocolate that is reducing the risks, or something about a combination of things that reduces heart attack risk.

“Causality is the issue that remains unanswered and that’s going to have to be explored through clinical trials and interventions,” said Sorond, whose research has shown that blood flow to the brain improves greatly in elderly subjects who are at high risk of stroke or dementia when they are given an increase in the amount of chocolate they consume.

Dr. Sorond feels more emphasis of study be placed on not the chocolate, but the cocoa content of the chocolate being used. Dr. Sorond did give chocolate lovers some food for thought, saying that there “does not appear to be any evidence to say that chocolate should be avoided in those who are concerned about (heart attack or) cardiovascular risk.”

Eat away, chocolate lover, eat away.

[Image courtesy of Freewall Source]