MONASH U. / U. MELBOURNE (AUS) — A daily dose of dark chocolate over a 10-year period could lower the risk of stroke and heart attack, a new study finds.
The results suggest dark chocolate could be an inexpensive—and tasty—intervention strategy for people at high risk of cardiovascular disease.
Published in the British Medical Journal, , the research shows that dark chocolate’s blood pressure- and cholesterol-lowering qualities could prevent 70 non-fatal and 15 fatal cardiovascular events per 10,000 people over a 10-year period. The study is the first to examine the long-term health benefits of flavanoids, which are found in dark chocolate and known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
“We’ve predicted significant health benefits of eating 100g of dark chocolate every day over a 10-year period,” says Ella Zomer, a PhD student at Monash University. “That’s about the equivalent of one premium-quality block containing a minimum 70 percent cocoa.”
Zomer says the findings indicate dark chocolate therapy “could provide an alternative to or be used to complement drug therapeutics in people at high risk of cardiovascular disease.”
Cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack and stroke, is the leading cause of death worldwide.
“We’re not suggesting that the high-risk group use dark chocolate as their only preventative measure, but in combination with sensible choices, such as exercise,” Zomer says.
Researchers used a mathematical model to predict the long-term health effects and cost-effectiveness of daily dark chocolate consumption in 2,013 people already at high risk of heart disease. Participants had no history of heart disease or diabetes and were not on blood pressure-lowering therapy.
Findings suggest that investing $42 per person, per year on dark chocolate-related health strategies, including advertising and promotion, would be beneficial to the wider population in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Non-fatal stroke and non-fatal heart attack were assessed and the potential effects on other cardiovascular events, including heart failure, are yet to be examined.
Enriched dark chocolate varieties with high flavonoid levels may also allow consumers to obtain the health benefits with lower levels of chocolate consumption.
Additional researchers from Monash and the University of Melbourne collaborated on the study.
More news from Monash University: http://www.monash.edu.au/