Chocolate lovers, here’s some news to celebrate: A recent study out of the University of Aberdeen found that people who eat up to two bars of chocolate per day have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke than those who don’t.
The study published in the journal Heart examined the data of 21,000 people. Researched discovered that only 12% of participants who eat 100 grams or less of chocolate (roughly two Hershey’s bars) each day get heart disease, while among those who avoid chocolate altogether, the number climbs to 17.4%. Researchers are theorizing that polyphenols, micronutrients present in cocoa beans, are to blame (um, thanks) for this phenomenon, as they may boost the heart’s blood vessels (and other things). This benefit of chocolate for heart health is even prevalent in milk chocolate despite the fact that it’s frequently revered as dark chocolate’s less-healthy cousin.
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This isn’t quite reason to rejoice just yet – after all, chocolate still has its many downsides, like sugar and unhealthy fats. In fact, the heart benefits chocolate may provide can come with trade-offs from those downsides, like increased risk of diabetes and high blood pressure. It’s also tough to determine whether the chocolate consumption was the sole factor in the study participants’ risk increase, or if other undetected lifestyle habits or genetic tendencies also played a role.
Obviously if heart health is our big concern, we’re probably better off just eating healthy and getting regular exercise. But what we can take from this study (instead of, say, reason to treat chocolate like vitamins) is the fact that researchers found no evidence that those worried about their heart health should cut out chocolate from their diet. Enjoy dessert now and then, and sleep well afterward knowing that Hershey’s bars do not equal heart attacks!
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