Chocolate and CV risk - small and dark is best

For those that celebrated Easter with chocolate Eggs, a timely study in the European Heart Journal.

This large, observational study of over 19,000 Germans had a mean follow-up of 8 years. The authors (Buijsse and colleagues) demonstrated that those eating the most chocolate had fewer MI and strokes than more modest consumers (by 39%). Participants were free from cardiovascular disease at baseline.

On average, blood pressure measures were 1 mmHg/0.9 mmHg lower in the highest quartile of chocolate consumption versus the lowest.

It must be said, however, that we are talking about small amounts of chocolate here. Those in the highest quartile consumed 7.5g daily compared with 1.7g daily in the lowest quartile.

This work adds to already published data demonstrating that chocolate can lower blood pressure and improve both endothelial and platelet function.

It's thought that the active ingredient is the cocoa - a flavonoid - also present in red wine, citrus fruits and tea.

Of course the downside is that chocolate is largely sugar - which equals calories - and so must be consumed in small amounts to get the CV benefit.

And it's the expensive stuff, with the highest cocoa content, that would be expected to deliver the most protection.

Sadly, this blog post is not endorsed by Cadbury's, Mars or Godiva.

A larger, more recent meta-analysis is described here.

Any thoughts on this issue? Should we file this under the "All things in moderation" category?

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