We have found the holy grail and it is chocolate. Lo, “Eating 100 g of chocolate daily linked to lowered heart disease and stroke risk”. One hundred grams a day! That’s about a quarter of the average adult woman’s total daily calorie intake. (About one sixth for a man).
So much for the 99% certain consensus that chocolate was junk food.
Eating up to 100 g of chocolate every day is linked to lowered heart disease and stroke risk. The calculations showed that compared with those who ate no chocolate higher intake was linked to an 11% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 25% lower risk of associated death.
They base their findings on almost 21,000 adults taking part in the EPIC-Norfolk study…
Around one in five (20%) participants said they did not eat any chocolate, but among the others, daily consumption averaged 7 g, with some eating up to 100 g.
Chocolate was associated with younger age… (we want some of that, right?)
Higher levels of consumption were associated with younger age and lower weight (BMI), waist: hip ratio, systolic blood pressure, inflammatory proteins, diabetes and more regular physical activity –all of which add up to a favourable cardiovascular disease risk profile.
Eating more chocolate was also associated with higher energy intake and a diet containing more fat and carbs and less protein and alcohol.
The calculations showed that compared with those who ate no chocolate higher intake was linked to an 11% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 25% lower risk of associated death.
OK the bottom line — I like that they talk of mortality, but it’s not all-cause mortality, so it doesn’t really count. What if chocolate reduces heart disease but increases cancer?
I like that there is a linear relationship right up to the highest levels of chocolate consumption. I don’t like that they didn’t even ask what kind of chocolate people were eating — as if Cadbury milk is the same as G&B’s 85% organic dark. Sacrilege!
I like that I now know there are people out there who eat more chocolate that I do. I feel so normal.
Confounders abound — what if people with dodgy hearts cut out the chocolate? What if chocolate is just displacing something worse? For anyone thinking of picking up the 100g daily habit, do check out the issues with cadmium.
This story will be picked up be every outlet. It’d help if specialist science writers had more experience unpacking the pros and cons of studies like these.
And among the 16,000 people whose inflammatory protein (CRP) level had been measured, those eating the most chocolate seemed to have an 18% lower risk than those who ate the least.
The highest chocolate intake was similarly associated with a 23% lower risk of stroke, even after taking account of other potential risk factors.
Of nine relevant studies included in the systematic review, five studies each assessed coronary heart disease and stroke outcome, and they found a significantly lower risk of both conditions associated with regular chocolate consumption.
And it was linked to a 25% lower risk of any episode of cardiovascular disease and a 45% lower risk of associated death.
This is an observational study so no definitive conclusions about cause and effect can be drawn. And the researchers point out that food frequency questionnaires do involve a certain amount of recall bias and underestimation of items eaten.
The useful information may well come from figuring out what foods the people-who-don’t-eat-chocolate are eating instead? 100grams a day of chocolate is displacing something. This study may show that chocolate is just better than that food.