How many of us out there would jump for joy if we learned that eating chocolate was good for our health? New research is emerging that suggests small amounts of chocolate may help reduce your risk of heart disease.
Chocolate Consumption and Heart Disease
In a new study presented at the European Society of Cardiology, it was shown that “people who ate chocolate three times a month had a reduced risk of heart failure of 13%, compared to those who ate none.” Though chocolate is higher in saturated fat and sugar, when eaten in moderation, it may help reduce inflammation, improve blood vessel health, and increase good cholesterol levels. The key word here, though, is moderation! From the same study mentioned before, research showed that “those who treated themselves every day…had an increased risk of heart failure of 17%, probably due to the high fat and sugar content.”
Chocolate Consumption and Atrial Fibrillation
So not only will consuming a moderate amount of dark chocolate monthly reduce your risk of heart disease, it may also protect against atrial fibrillation, another heart condition marked by an often rapid, irregular heart rate. In the study, conducted by scientists at Harvard, “out of 55,000 participants, those who ate chocolate six times a week had a 20% lower rate of [atrial fibrillation] compared to those who had it just once a month.”
Moderation is Key
For those who are already at a greater risk of heart disease, avoidance of foods high in saturated fat and sugar is common. Because of this, it cannot be determined that eating three servings of dark chocolate monthly will lower your risk of heart disease. Further research is necessary to make a definitive decision on the relationship between chocolate and heart disease. As a general rule of thumb, it’s okay to have in moderation as long as you combine it with a diet high in whole grains, fruit, vegetables and lean proteins. So before you dive right into your bowl of Halloween candy, make sure you only consume a little bit a time.
For more tips on Halloween candy consumption, check out our blog. If you need help balancing your diet or controlling your sweet tooth, come see me for a nutrition consultation!Schedule a Nutrition Consultation
Written by Sarah Brunner, RDN, CD; Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian
Sarah is certified in food allergies/intolerances and nutritional counseling, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; has a certificate in Dietetics from Mount Mary University; and a BA in Education and Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.