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Chocolate and health are often seen as opposites of one another, in that to have one is to ignore the other. However, the debate over their polar natures may very well soon come to an end. By the revelations of a recent health study, individuals who regularly enjoy eating chocolate are less likely to suffer from heart disease and strokes are more likely to be countered in relation to individuals who ignore chocolate altogether. The study involved the observation of nearly 21,000 people, where the researchers behind the experiment recorded that the participants who ate around four ounces of chocolate on a daily basis were privileged by lesser risks of heart disease.
The results of the study were published in Heart, a well-recognized medical journal. The journal commented by saying that the calculations showed an 11 percent difference in the contracting of heart disease between those who ate the chocolate, and those who did not, as well as a 25 percent deficit when it came to deaths from cardiovascular afflictions.
The results were due to the participants being split into groups based on the amounts of chocolate they ingested, from those who ate the most to the least. Phyo Myint, the author of the study, said that the greatest change came from those who ate between 15 and 100 grams of chocolate a day, and a normal Hershey bar is around 45 grams.
Even with the clear disparity between those who eat chocolate versus the ones who did not, the researchers said that they are in no way advocating for everyone to consume heavy amounts of chocolate. They merely wanted to produce the preliminary results in one of a long stream of studies to be conducted in the future. Howard LeWine reviewed the study under the auspices of the Harvard University health blog. He said that eating chocolate may be beneficial for that one specific brand of illness, but not enough is known to compare it to the health benefits of fruits and vegetables.
LeWine stated that finding a link between the sugary delight and cardiovascular health is not akin to determining cause and effect. He then said that the individuals who partook of the chocolate offered may also be doing other health conscious things that also affect their health, possibly in a more direct way, either by eating healthy foods or with a level regimen of exercise.
Furthermore, LeWine believes that because the study was strictly observational, combined with the fact that the participants reported their eating habits to the researchers, they could only draw statistics with less credible evidence. The only way to surmise direct causation and countered stats between eating chocolate and heart disease is by performing an arbitrary trial.
The science behind the study reveals that cocoa beans contain a bioactive compound called polyphenol, which is theorized to help prevent and protect against heart disease. The dean of the Tuft University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Dariush Mozaffarian, said that polyphenols have the ability to improve an individual’s blood vessels. Teams of researchers are all going to be conducting more studies and examinations behind the applications the polyphenol compound possesses.
One of the ways that polyphenol could be used, according to JoAnn Manson, the Brigham and Women’s Hospital chief of Division of Preventive Medicine, is in the form of a pill. It would contain none of the sugar or calories a regular chocolate bar would. While the polyphenol capsule is being tested, health experts recommend that individuals stick to dark chocolate as it contains more polyphenols than milk chocolate. Just like LeWine did with stating how chocolate should not be what everyone turns to so their risk of heart disease can be countered, Manson says that by no means should eating chocolate be a total taboo.
By Matthew Austin Bowers
Edited by Chanel van der Woodsen
The Inquisitr: Chocolate And Heart Disease Study Draws Criticism
National Public Radio: Chocolate, Chocolate, It’s Good For Your Heart, Study Finds
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Photo Courtesy of elena’s pantry’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License