Is chocolate good for your heart? It depends

PARIS,  (Reuters) – Chocolate may be good for the  heart but cardiologists are not giving you a licence to indulge.

New research presented at Europe’s biggest medical meeting  on Monday suggested chocolate consumption might be associated  with a one third reduction in the risk of developing heart  disease.

Just why there should be such a link was unclear, the  European Society of Cardiology congress was told.

There has been a string of scientific studies in recent  years showing a potential health benefit from eating chocolate.  Dark chocolate, in particular, contains compounds called  flavanols thought to be good for the blood system.

In an attempt to paint a clearer picture, Oscar Franco and  colleagues from the University of Cambridge pooled results from  seven studies involving 100,000 people.

Five of the studies showed a beneficial link between eating  chocolate and cardiovascular health, while two did not.

Overall, the findings showed the highest levels of chocolate  consumption were associated with a 37 percent reduction in  cardiovascular disease and a 29 percent reduction in stroke  compared with the lowest levels.

Franco said there were limitations with the pooled analysis,  which did not differentiate between dark and milk chocolate, and  more research was needed to test whether chocolate actually  caused better health outcomes or if it was due to some other  confounding factor.

“Evidence does suggest chocolate might have some heart  health benefits but we need to find out why that might be,” said  Victoria Taylor, of the British Heart Foundation, who was not  involved in the research.

“If you want to reduce your heart disease risk, there are  much better places to start than at the bottom of a box of  chocolates.”

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