Eating chocolate has long been a guilty pleasure for many. However, recent research has been continually showing that chocolate is more than just a tasty treat. Although the majority of research has focused on the antioxidant based health properties of chocolate, a new study published by The Journal of Internal Medicine has found a different reason to head to the candy store.
This cohort study, based in Stockholm Sweden, considered the chocolate consumption of 1169 non-diabetic patients who had been recently hospitalized with a heart attack. Over the next 8 years, as the patients were followed, it was discovered that those who consumed the most chocolate, had lower risks of dying from further heart related problems.
In fact, the consistency of which chocolate was eaten played a major role in protecting these patients. For those who ate chocolate only once a month, the risk was lowered by only 27% (still not bad though). For those who ate chocolate once per week, their risk of dying from heart related problems dropped 44%. And finally, for those who ate chocolate two or more times per week, the study reports that their risk was lowered by an astounding 66%!
But before you reach for the Snickers, remember this chocolate rule of thumb: the darker the chocolate, the healthier the chocolate.
This is true for two reasons. First, dark chocolate contains more cocoa which is the compound that contains the flavonoids, antioxidants, and other bioactive compounds that make chocolate healthy. Second, milk chocolate and white chocolate are loaded up with far more sugar. While this makes the it sweeter, it also makes it less healthy. So if you want to start enjoying the benefits of chocolate, I recommend choosing a chocolate bar that is at least a 60% cocoa. Remember, the higher cocoa percentage you can stand, (85% and up tends to be quite bitter) the healthier the effects will be for you life.
So eat you chocolate and don’t make me tell you twice!
Here’s to your health!
Joe Stout, M.S., received his Bachelors of Science degree in Human Nutrition and Food Science from Washington State University and a Masters of Science degree in Clinical Human Nutrition. He has written for various magazines and is the editor of The High Road to Health. A nutrition teacher and speaker, he lives in Spokane WA with his beautiful wife and 3 wonderful children.