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Eating chocolate can protect you from heart attacks and strokes


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(NaturalNews) Chocolate lovers, rejoice: researchers have found that eating chocolate can have a positive impact on your health. In a study involving nearly 158,000 men and women, they determined that a correlation existed between the consumption of chocolate and a diminished risk of stroke and heart attacks.

While news about incorporating chocolate into the diet is nothing new, many people might be surprised tthat this study found that milk chocolate, which is often considered dark chocolate's evil twin, is also healthy. The bottom line is that you shouldn't be so quick to pass on chocolate no matter what kind it is. Instead, you can enjoy some on a daily basis just like those in the study did. Compared to those who didn't eat any types of chocolate, those who ingested the highest levels of it regularly (with the average being 7g daily) had a 25 percent lower risk of experiencing any cardiovascular disease episode and a 23 percent lower risk of stroke.

Why is milk chocolate also beneficial? The experts suggest that the presence of flavonoids and milk ingredients like fatty acids and calcium play a role.

Chocolate need not be avoided by those "concerned about cardiovascular risk"

The study, which assessed people based on lifestyle, food intake questionnaires and incidences of cardiovascular or stroke events over the course of many years, involved people who were part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC)-Norfolk (England) cohort. Researchers also delved into previously-published international information that outlined evidence regarding the link between chocolate consumption and cardiovascular disease risks. Their findings were published in the journal, Heart, which notes the following:

Cumulative evidence suggests that higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future cardiovascular events...There does not appear to be any evidence to say that chocolate should be avoided in those who are concerned about cardiovascular risk.

The latter part of this statement seems to go against the commonly-held notion that those with existing heart problems or those who wish to avoid them altogether should have little to no chocolate.

Medical expert responds to study, notes importance of flavonoids in diet

Howard LeWine, M.D., Chief Medical Editor for Harvard Health Publications and a self-admitted chocolate lover, responded to these findings. "One of the interesting things about this research," he wrote, "is that participants in the non-chocolate group had higher average weight, more artery-damaging inflammation, more diabetes, were less physically active and had diets with the least amount of fat compared to chocolate eaters." Once again, this not only supports the recent findings, but it also bucks many widely-held thoughts that people should avoid chocolate and turn only to low or zero-fat diets. It is clear that people with certain health problems are not eating chocolate or much fat throughout the day.

Nevertheless, LeWine, who is known for writing prescriptions for patients to exercise more frequently or eat additional fruits and vegetables, says chocolate should be enjoyed in moderation. He also maintains that although milk chocolate was found to be a beneficial chocolate, people should still stick to the dark kind because it has less saturated fat and unhealthy sugar. Specifically, he suggests eating chocolates that contain 70 percent or more of cocoa because the cacao beans used to produce the cocoa powder for chocolate are rich in flavonoids.

Flavonoids contribute to reductions in blood pressure while also boosting blood flow to the heart and brain. Furthermore, they also fight cell damage, improve thinking ability and prevent blood clots. Dark chocolate with this higher percentage, he suggests, is a better option than milk chocolate.

Go ahead and be sure to include more chocolate in your diet. Know that chocolate has a multitude of health benefits that make it well worth eating more often.

Sources for this article include:
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-06/b-eut061215.php
http://heart.bmj.com/content/early/2015/05/20/heartjnl-2014-307050
http://www.health.harvard.edu
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