A number of studies have shown cardiovascular benefits of eating flavanol rich cocoa. Cocoa is the important substance of chocolate. Especially dark chocolate can contain high levels of flavanols. The possible underlying mechanisms of these cardioprotective properties of chocolate can be several.
The biggest question that remains is about the right dose of dark chocolate. From prior publications suggestion were made about the right dose:
- an average amount of 6.7 grams of chocolate per day, corresponding to a small square of chocolate twice or three times a week
- no more than 25 gram, or 2.5 squares of dark chocolate, a day
- up to 1 serving (20 g) of dark chocolate every 3 days
Until now I’m still holding on to “the more the better”. A recent publication suggested to me by my colleague Cryptocheilus followed 31,823 women 48-83 years old without diabetes or a history of Heart Failure or myocardial infarction. They were participants in the Swedish Mammography Cohort. The researchers categorized the women according to their chocolate intake.
Chocolate intake was categorized as no regular chocolate intake, 1-3 servings of chocolate per month, 1-2 servings per week, 3-6 servings per week and one or more servings per day.
They followed these women up to nine years and their outcome measures were hospitalization for heart failure or death. The rate of heart failure was lower in the group who consumed 1-3 servings of chocolate per month (26%) and those who consumed 1-2 servings per week (32%). The rate of heart failure was not reduced and similar among women with no regular chocolate intake and those who consumed chocolate 3-6 servings per week and those who consumed one or more servings per day.
The advantage of this study is that they took into account several confounding factors such as milk consumption, consumption of snacks, physical activity, smoking, social status. Although it’s a prospectiove cohort study the result should be taken cautiously. It’s not a dose finding study, still waiting on that one. So until then I’ll stick to my 1-2- servings per week, the more the better dose. What about you?
Mostofsky, E., Levitan, E., Wolk, A., & Mittleman, M. (2010). Chocolate Intake and Incidence of Heart Failure: A Population-Based, Prospective Study of Middle-Aged and Elderly Women Circulation: Heart Failure DOI: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.110.944025