CAMBRIDGE, England, Aug. 29 (UPI) — People who eat chocolate have reduced risk of heart attack and stroke but the benefit may be due to something else chocolate eaters do, British researchers say.
Dr. Oscar Franco and colleagues at the University of Cambridge conducted a review of seven studies involving more than 100,000 participants who did and did not have heart disease. For each study, they compared the group with the highest chocolate consumption against the group with the lowest consumption, Franco says.
The review finds 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 lowest levels. No significant reduction was found in relation to heart failure.
Many studies have shown the heart benefits of eating dark chocolate but the studies that were part of the review did not differentiate between dark or milk chocolate and included consumption of chocolate bars, drinks, biscuits and desserts, Franco says.
Franco and colleagues say further studies are needed to test whether chocolate actually causes this reduction in heart risk or if it can be explained by some other unmeasured confounding factor.
The findings need to be interpreted with caution, in particular because commercially available chocolate is very high in calories and eating too much of it could lead to weight gain and an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, Franco says.
The review was presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Paris.