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Easter Bunny may save your life

Just in time for those chocolate Easter eggs, a big new study offers yet more evidence that chocolate is not only good, but also good for you.

A growing body of evidence has been accumulating that cocoa and chocolate may have a variety of health benefits, especially for the heart. But the evidence from large studies that have followed people for years has been mixed.

In the new study, published in the European Heart Journal, researchers at the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Nuthetal, Germany, analyzed data collected from 19,357 adults ages 35 to 65 about their diets and their risk for heart attacks and strokes.

Those who ate the most chocolate -- an average of about 7.5 grams per day -- had lower blood pressure and a 39 percent lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke compared with those who ate the least amount of chocolate -- an average of 1.7 grams per day.

Based on the findings, the researchers estimate that if the people who eat the least chocolate increased their chocolate consumption by 6 grams a day, there would be at least 85 fewer heart attacks and strokes out of every 100,000 people over a decade.

The researchers cautioned, however, that this was only the case if people did not increase their overall intake of calories or eat chocolate at the expense of healthful food. People would have to cut back on other kinds of snacks to offset the calories from the chocolate and avoid gaining weight.

Although more research is needed, the researchers say substances in cocoa known as flavanols may account for the health benefits. Flavonols appear to increase levels of nitric oxide, which lowers blood pressure. Although this study did not examine which type of chocolate was best, dark chocolate has more flavanols, suggesting that might be the best kind. Other studies indicate dark chocolate lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk for blood clots, which can cause heart attacks and strokes.

By Rob Stein  |  March 30, 2010; 9:36 AM ET
Categories:  Cardiovascular Health , Nutrition and Fitness  
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Posted by: gconrads | March 30, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I would have to look at the study and see what they controlled for. If they did not control for the effects of gender, the study is worthless: women eat more chocolate than men on average, and on average have a lower risk of heart attack and stroke. Correlation is not causation.

What I actually find amusing about this study is, this being Germany, the low end of chocolate consumption was on the order of 2 oz a day. Of course, a good bit of that was probably consumed with Erbacher (pure whiskey) inside the chocolates. . . . .I kinda miss Germany.

Posted by: BadMommy1 | March 30, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

There’s an interesting post over at the Health Journal Club that makes the case that people should just not eat anything that wasn’t a food 100 years ago. Gets rid of the aspartame, bleached GM flour, high fructose corn syrup garbage they try to pass off as food these days. If interested you can read on it here,

What ... chocolate was around 100 years ago

Posted by: LincolnsWisdom | April 1, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

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