As if we needed another reason to eat chocolate, British researchers found that individuals who ate the most chocolate had a 37% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 29% lower risk of stroke compared with individuals who ate the least amount of chocolate.
In their analysis of data from seven studies, the investigators did not differentiate between dark, milk, or white chocolate. Chocolate in any form was included, such as chocolate bars, chocolate drinks, and chocolate snacks, such as confectionary, biscuits, desserts, and nutritional supplements. Chocolate consumption was reported differently in the trials but ranged from never to more than once per day. Most patients included in the trials were white, although one study included Hispanic and African Americans and one study included Asian patients.
"These favorable effects seem mainly mediated by the high content of polyphenols present in cocoa products and are probably accrued through the increasing bioavailability of nitric oxide, which subsequently might lead to improvements in endothelial function, reductions in platelet function, and additional beneficial effects on blood pressure, insulin resistance, and blood lipids," conclude Dr. Adriana Buitrago-Lopez and colleagues from the University of Cambridge.
While this study included all forms of chocolate, there are varying amounts of polyphenols among different preparations. Dark chocolate and cocoa have a greater antioxidant capacity and a greater total flavanol, and polyphenol content than milk chocolate. Hot chocolate mixes, due to processing (alkalization) of the chocolate, contain very little.
For more healthy reasons to love dark chocolate, read on.