The new study looked at chocolate consumption in more than 33,000 women who were part of a study group called the Swedish Mammography Cohort. The women were followed for about ten years, and stroke events during this time were recorded.
This isn’t the first time that the health benefits of chocolate have made headlines. Previous studies have shown that chocolate has various effects that may help prevent heart disease, including:
Most of these perks have been associated with eating dark chocolate, while eating milk chocolate or white chocolate doesn’t seem to translate into better heart health. Milk inhibits the absorption of the cocoa’s antioxidant flavonoids (which are found in the cocoa solids) responsible for chocolate’s health-boosting effects, and white chocolate has minimal cocoa solids (around 24%). Dark chocolate typically contains about 70 to 80% cocoa solids.
In the new study, for each 50-gram-per-week increase in chocolate consumption, the risk of stroke decreased by 12%. Interestingly, most of the chocolate available in Sweden at the time of the study was milk chocolate, containing only about 30% cocoa solids.
While this study adds to a growing body of evidence of the fantastic benefits of chocolate, a couple of squares per day should be sufficient to reap the same benefits that these women saw. Consider these points before gorging on the sweet stuff.
(J Am Coll Cardiol 2011;doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2011.07.023)