Chocolate Reduces The Risk Of Death From A Heart Attack
As if you needed another reason to eat chocolate. Doctors have found that in heart attack survivors, eating chocolate two or more times per week cuts their risk of dying from heart disease by as much as three-fold over people who never eat the stuff. And best of all, it seems as if the more you eat, the better – though small quantities are better than none.
It has long been inferred that chocolate has certain health benefits, but the line between scientific fact and myth has always been a blurry one, and might have simply boiled down to a case of wishful thinking. There have been studies that indicated that the consumption of chocolate might in fact lower blood pressure and improve circulation.
However, the current study, coming out in the September issue of the Journal of Internal Medicine, goes so far as to imply that eating chocolate might actually lower the risk of death in people who have already experienced a heart attack, also known as acute myocardial infarction. The benefits were chocolate specific and were not seen in sweets in general.
In the study in question, doctors followed over 1,100 men and women who had previously been hospitalized for a first heart attack for eight years after their release from the hospital. What they found was that after controlling for various lifestyle factors that included education, diet, weight, and physical activity, the more chocolate that the people ate, the more likely they were to survive. In fact, the subjects who ate chocolate at least once a week had as much as a 44% reduction in their risk of dying from a subsequent heart attack, and those who ate it twice or more a week had a 66% reduction. Even those who only consumed chocolate sparingly (i.e., less than once a month) derived some benefit, experiencing a 27% reduction.
Scientists are not completely sure why chocolate may have such healthful benefits, but it is widely believe to be tied to the presence of flavonoids, which are antioxidants that have been implicated in helping the body combat a whole host of ailments, including cancer and heart disease.
Experts caution, however, that before we start having it for breakfast, it is important to keep in mind that chocolate is not a replacement for healthy foods such as meats, fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, the study did not factor in what type of chocolate was most beneficial, milk or dark (dark chocolate has more flavonoids).
Even still, it is nice to know that enjoying a little indulgence on a regular basis (after a healthy meal, of course) might have some significant health benefits, especially in light of the fact that that the more you eat, the better.