Not so guilty pleasure

A balanced diet is a chocolate in both hands

Chocolate consumption and risk of cardiovascular diseases: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Heart Published Online First. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2018-313131; Ren Y, Liu Y, Sun X, et al.

If ‘You need to quit smoking, lose some weight and drink less than 14 units of alcohol weekly!’ sounds familiar, it is nice to know that not all pleasures are forbidden. Wine, coffee, olives, salmon - and now also chocolate. All within reason.

Previous studies looking into impact of chocolate consumption on cardiovascular disease have reached conflicting results. The authors of this paper in Heart therefore performed a comprehensive review of relevant studies with over 400 000 participants examining the dose - response association between chocolate consumption and incidence of cardiovascular disease including stroke, myocardial infarction and heart failure. The result of the analysis is good news for all chocolate aficionados.

The strongest reduction in cardiovascular risk was with consumption between 45 g and 75 g chocolate a week. The protective effect was lost when chocolate intake exceeded 100 g week, presumably because of high sugar and fat intake which may have offset the health benefits due to weight gain and associated medical problems.

Before rushing to get another bar of Snickers, a word of caution: The ideal level of chocolate consumption was a single square per day or one bar per week, so hardly a feast. Chocolate consumption was self-reported, the type of chocolate not identified, and the study is a meta-analysis from which no causal relationship can be established. Still, a victory for Willy Wonka.

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