Hearty chocolate truths

Chocolate lovers everywhere eagerly gobble up the seemingly endless stream of good news research that comes out on this ubiquitous food. Now a Swedish study has some more good news for chocophiles but between the lines of this research there also lies a cautionary tale.

The data for the study spanned nine years and involved almost 32 000 Swedish women aged 48 to 82. From this information the researchers looking to see if there was a relationship between chocolate consumption and risk of heart failure.

What they found was that women who had one two or servings of high quality chocolate per week had a 32 per cent reduction in risk of developing heart failure when compared to other women their age. Women who only had one to three servings a month had a 26 per cent reduction in heart risk. All good so far for chocolate lovers but here is where the bad news begins; women who consumed one or more servings of chocolate per day had no reduction in risk.

All of this tells us that a little chocolate is good, but a lot of chocolate is not so good, probably because of the calories and sugar that you consume when you eat a lot of chocolate. It is likely that at high consumption levels the “baddies” in chocolate outweigh the “goodness” of the flavonoids that are contained in the cocoa. This again raises another sting in the tail of this study.

The research was done in Sweden and apart from saunas and flagellation with birch branches, one of the differences between Sweden and Australia or America is the Swedish chocolate. In Sweden during the time of this study, 90 per cent of all chocolate eaten was milk chocolate. However, milk chocolate in Sweden contains an average of around 30 per cent cocoa. Much lower levels, like around fifteen per cent, can be used in other countries and of course it is the cocoa that contains the flavonoids that protect your heart.

One final thing to clear up is exactly how much chocolate the women in the study were eating. The average serving size for women over 61 in the study was nineteen grams and for women 61 and under was 30 grams. This means that between 20 and 30 grams twice a week yielded the most protective results for the heart.

Alas, this is hardly a warrant to binge on chocolate to your heart’s delight. It does however suggest that small amounts of high cocoa chocolate (at least 30 per cent) can be good for you. So rather than a regular thing make your high cocoa chocolate a treat and as its mouth melting texture seduces your taste buds remind yourself that your small indulgence is also a nice little thing for your heart.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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