It’s a good day for chocolate lovers. If you’re in need of an excuse to indulge in some chocolate treats on occasion, here’s your golden ticket. Researchers have found that higher levels of chocolate consumption appear to be associated with a 37% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease, 31% reduction in diabetes, and a 29% reduction in risk of having a stroke. ‘Smores for everyone?!
University of Cambridge scientists analyzed seven study results involving over 114,000 participants. They observed consumption of both dark and milk chocolate in the form of chocolate bars, chocolate drinks and chocolate snacks.
It’s pretty common knowledge at this point that cocoa and cacao products contain antioxidants that have an anti-inflammatory effect on heart health, but these scientists found an association between increased consumption of chocolate products and reduced risk of diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease.
Stroke and heart disease are the leading causes of death worldwide, killing an estimated 23.6 million people by 2030, according to the World Health Organisation. Metabolic syndrome, closely associated with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, affects about one fifth of adults around the world.
Don’t be fooled, though. These diseases are all largely preventable by living a healthy lifestyle of exercise and nutrient-rich foods. As more research is done, chocolate may provide an easy, convenient and delicious way to help prevent illnesses if the research suggests the effects are strong enough.
The developing world is experiencing increased cardiometabolic diseases, and while they produce many cocoa and cacao products, the processed product is rarely available for their consumption, therefore not available for regular consumption. Chocolate products could become a way to prevent an increase in illness in the developing world.
In order to have a true impact on our health, chocolate products may have to be revamped and redesigned without the high levels of fat and sugar in many of them. If you’re eating a Hershey’s bar daily, keep in mind that sugar and fat lead to weight gain, diabetes, hypertension and other illnesses, so it is still important to find healthier chocolate products and consume everything in moderation.
Are you a chocolate lover? If not, would you indulge in the occasional chocolate treat for preventative measures if further research suggests it’s a good idea?