In a study published in British Medical Journal, researchers found that daily consumption of dark chocolate for could reduce heart attacks and strokes in people with risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.
Dark chocolate containing at least 60 percent coca solids is rich in flavonoids, known to have great antioxidant power. The benefits have been analyzed in short term studies before. In the new study, a team of researchers from Australia used a mathematical model to analyze the long-term health benefit of dark chocolate.
The team recruited 2,013 participants who had metabolic syndrome - a group of risk factors that include high blood sugar level, large waistline, and low level of HDL. All participants also had high blood pressure, but they didn’t have history of heart disease or diabetes. None of the participants was receiving treatment to lower blood pressure.
Researchers set the daily intake of dark chocolate to 100 grams or 3.5 ounces. The results of the study showed that 65 to 85 heart attacks and strokes could be prevented per 10,000 people over 10 year period. The difference was based on how well people follow their daily dark chocolate routine. 100 percent compliance with 100 grams of daily dark chocolate intake could prevent 70 non-fatal heart attacks or strokes, and 15 fatal cardiovascular events. 80 percent compliance could prevent 55 non-fatal and 10 fatal cardiovascular events respectively.
The study suggested that the cost to implement “dark chocolate” plan for an individual would be around $40 per year. In conclusion, daily dark chocolate consumption can be an effective preventive method for people with metabolic syndrome.
The researchers pointed out that the study only assessed the effect of dark chocolate for non-fatal heart attacks and stroke. The effect on other cardiovascular events such as heart failure would need further testing. Milk chocolate and white chocolate were not tested in the study.