August 16th, 2010

A Treat for Chocolate Lovers from Sweden

In a report that will surely provide comfort to millions, a study of 31,823 Swedish women found that over 9 years of follow-up, women who regularly consumed moderate amounts of chocolate had a lower risk for developing heart failure than those who ate no chocolate at all. However, no protective effect was observed in women who consumed chocolate one or more times per day. In their paper in Circulation: Heart Failure, Elizabeth Mostofsky and colleagues note that the high-quality chocolate consumed in Sweden contained higher cocoa concentrations, which has been linked to beneficial cardiovascular effects, than chocolate consumed in the United States.

“You can’t ignore that chocolate is a relatively calorie-dense food and large amounts of habitual consumption is going to raise your risks for weight gain,” said the paper’s senior author, Murray Mittleman, in an AHA press release. “But if you’re going to have a treat, dark chocolate is probably a good choice, as long as it’s in moderation.”

“Those tempted to use these data as their rationale for eating large amounts of chocolate or engaging in more frequent chocolate consumption are not interpreting this study appropriately,” said Linda Van Horn, the immediate past chair of the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee, in the AHA press release. “This is not an ‘eat all you want’ take-home message, rather it’s that eating a little dark chocolate can be healthful, as long as other adverse behaviors do not occur, such as weight gain or excessive intake of non-nutrient dense ‘empty’ calories.”

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