Chocolate and Cardiovascular Health Benefits

Walter van den Broek
January 19, 2011

Two recent large epidemiological studies again suggest a beneficial effect of chocolate consumption on cardiovascular disease. One study was a prospective study in 1216 women with a follow up of 9,5 years. The frequency of chocolate consumption was categorized in three groups”: < 1 serving per week, 1-6 servings and 7 or more. Outcome was defined as plaque thickness in the carotid artery and hospitalization or death at follow up as clinical outcome.

Not only were carotid plaques less prevalent in those women eating more chocolate but also those who ate more chocolate were less frequently hospitalized or death from ischemic heart disease.

In a large German study with middle aged participants of both sexes without cardiovascular disease at inclusion also an inverse relationship between chocolate consumption (at the time of enrollment in the study) and cardiovascular disease risk (myocardial infarction and stroke over the following 8 years) could be found.

in the quartile characterized by the lowest chocolate consumption (1.7 g/day) 106 myocardial infarctions and strokes occurred, whereas only 61 events occurred (combined relative risk of 0.61) in the quartile with the highest chocolate consumption (7.5 g/day). In the latter group, both systolic and diastolic blood pressure were found to be 1 mmHg lower as compared with the referent low chocolate consumption quartile.

In our quest for the optimal chocolate dose this last research adds another probable dosage that benefits our cardiovascular system namely 7,5 g/day.
Nevertheless, the problem with these large studies is the proof of a correlation, unfortunately no causation. These studies cannot provide direct proof for the existence of a cause and effect relationship. These two studies add up with two other large epidemiological studies. One in elderly Dutch men (Zutphen Elderly Study) and one in post-menopausal American women (Iowa Women’s Health Study).

Another problem is specificity. Cocoa contains other bioactive substances. Until now the beneficial effect of chocolate is attributed to it’s flavanol content. Moreover, participants might derive flavanols from other food substances such as vegetables, tea or fruit.

Originally, the positive effects of cocoa were found among the Kuna Indians living longer on islands off the coast of Panama than the mainland Panama population. But these Indians drank a cocoa drink that is consumed many times a day. This drink is something completely different from our chocolate. It’s low in calories and contains the unadulterated, unstripped cocoa, its bitterness tempered by sugar. Tried to find it’s recipe on the Internet but without any luck. Recipe anyone?

ResearchBlogging.org
Buijsse, B., Weikert, C., Drogan, D., Bergmann, M., & Boeing, H. (2010). Chocolate consumption in relation to blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease in German adults European Heart Journal, 31 (13), 1616-1623 DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehq068
Emma Wilkinson (2009). CardioPulse Articles European Heart Journal, 30 (24), 2951-2961 DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehp485
Heiss, C., & Kelm, M. (2010). Chocolate consumption, blood pressure, and cardiovascular risk European Heart Journal, 31 (13), 1554-1556 DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehq114
Lewis JR, Prince RL, Zhu K, Devine A, Thompson PL, & Hodgson JM (2010). Habitual chocolate intake and vascular disease: a prospective study of clinical outcomes in older women. Archives of internal medicine, 170 (20), 1857-8 PMID: 21059981

 

7 Responses to “Chocolate and Cardiovascular Health Benefits”

  1. “Kuna Indians are drinking the unadulterated, unstripped cocoa, its bitterness tempered by sugar. ”

    That sounds a little like a sentence from
    http://realestate-panama.blogspot.com/2007/03/kuna-indians-of-panama-with-magical.html
    Would be interesting to see if epicatchin did have an effect purely by itself as a supplement.

    I’d recommend just getting in contact with Prof Hollenberg (he’s studied the Kuna for 16 years, so likely could tell you!)

    He’s down as Harvard Medical School / Brigham and women’s hospital – a teaching affiliate of HMS. Physiology Research –
    Contact:
    Norman K Hollenberg, MD, PhD
    Director, Physiologic Research Division
    Department of Radiology
    Brigham and Women’s Hospital
    Professor of Medicine
    Harvard Medical School
    Boston, MA 02115
    Tel: 617-732-6682

    he’s probably something @partners.org but they seem to not to like to give email addresses/use phone more.

    An alternative is to give a cocoafiend a bell on twitter – eg William Harcourt-cooze
    @WilliesCacao

  2. Tom on January 19th, 2011 at 11:21 am
  3. Thanks for the adress and link, take care Dr Shock

  4. Dr Shock on January 19th, 2011 at 9:47 pm
  5. [...] A medical research among participants proves that chocolate intake (drinking or eating dark chocolates) actually help improve the system fight against cardiovascular diseases. [...]

  6. Chocolate is Super Alright « Blue skies, on February 9th, 2011 at 10:40 am
  7. [...] Goes Up Scientific link between the Super Bowl and heart disease – a blog post from Big Think 4. Chocolate and Cardiovascular Benefits Studies suggest a beneficial link between chocolate and cardiovascular disease – a blog post [...]

  8. Beaker » Blog Archive » Blog Your Heart Out! on February 12th, 2011 at 12:02 am
  9. Right from childhood, we have been taught to try and avoid chocolates. The reason often given for this advice was that chocolates can have a damaging effect on your health, especially the teeth. However, recent studies have revealed that such ideas are deeply misplaced. But one needs to understand that these theories are applicable only for dark chocolate with a high cocoa content.

  10. namita on August 30th, 2011 at 3:00 pm
  11. Chocolate doesn’t only feed the urge of our taste buds, instead it has content that help us alleviate stress.

  12. Jill Duggan Karen Hanover on December 2nd, 2011 at 1:25 pm
  13. [...] A medical research among participants proves that chocolate intake (drinking or eating dark chocolates) actually help improve the system fight against cardiovascular diseases. [...]

  14. Chocolate Super Alright | health + pc geek on December 11th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
  1. “Kuna Indians are drinking the unadulterated, unstripped cocoa, its bitterness tempered by sugar. ”

    That sounds a little like a sentence from
    http://realestate-panama.blogspot.com/2007/03/kuna-indians-of-panama-with-magical.html
    Would be interesting to see if epicatchin did have an effect purely by itself as a supplement.

    I’d recommend just getting in contact with Prof Hollenberg (he’s studied the Kuna for 16 years, so likely could tell you!)

    He’s down as Harvard Medical School / Brigham and women’s hospital – a teaching affiliate of HMS. Physiology Research –
    Contact:
    Norman K Hollenberg, MD, PhD
    Director, Physiologic Research Division
    Department of Radiology
    Brigham and Women’s Hospital
    Professor of Medicine
    Harvard Medical School
    Boston, MA 02115
    Tel: 617-732-6682

    he’s probably something @partners.org but they seem to not to like to give email addresses/use phone more.

    An alternative is to give a cocoafiend a bell on twitter – eg William Harcourt-cooze
    @WilliesCacao

  2. Tom on January 19th, 2011 at 11:21 am
  3. Thanks for the adress and link, take care Dr Shock

  4. Dr Shock on January 19th, 2011 at 9:47 pm
  5. [...] A medical research among participants proves that chocolate intake (drinking or eating dark chocolates) actually help improve the system fight against cardiovascular diseases. [...]

  6. Chocolate is Super Alright « Blue skies, on February 9th, 2011 at 10:40 am
  7. [...] Goes Up Scientific link between the Super Bowl and heart disease – a blog post from Big Think 4. Chocolate and Cardiovascular Benefits Studies suggest a beneficial link between chocolate and cardiovascular disease – a blog post [...]

  8. Beaker » Blog Archive » Blog Your Heart Out! on February 12th, 2011 at 12:02 am
  9. Right from childhood, we have been taught to try and avoid chocolates. The reason often given for this advice was that chocolates can have a damaging effect on your health, especially the teeth. However, recent studies have revealed that such ideas are deeply misplaced. But one needs to understand that these theories are applicable only for dark chocolate with a high cocoa content.

  10. namita on August 30th, 2011 at 3:00 pm
  11. Chocolate doesn’t only feed the urge of our taste buds, instead it has content that help us alleviate stress.

  12. Jill Duggan Karen Hanover on December 2nd, 2011 at 1:25 pm
  13. [...] A medical research among participants proves that chocolate intake (drinking or eating dark chocolates) actually help improve the system fight against cardiovascular diseases. [...]

  14. Chocolate Super Alright | health + pc geek on December 11th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
  1. “Kuna Indians are drinking the unadulterated, unstripped cocoa, its bitterness tempered by sugar. ”

    That sounds a little like a sentence from
    http://realestate-panama.blogspot.com/2007/03/kuna-indians-of-panama-with-magical.html
    Would be interesting to see if epicatchin did have an effect purely by itself as a supplement.

    I’d recommend just getting in contact with Prof Hollenberg (he’s studied the Kuna for 16 years, so likely could tell you!)

    He’s down as Harvard Medical School / Brigham and women’s hospital – a teaching affiliate of HMS. Physiology Research –
    Contact:
    Norman K Hollenberg, MD, PhD
    Director, Physiologic Research Division
    Department of Radiology
    Brigham and Women’s Hospital
    Professor of Medicine
    Harvard Medical School
    Boston, MA 02115
    Tel: 617-732-6682

    he’s probably something @partners.org but they seem to not to like to give email addresses/use phone more.

    An alternative is to give a cocoafiend a bell on twitter – eg William Harcourt-cooze
    @WilliesCacao

  2. Tom on January 19th, 2011 at 11:21 am
  3. Thanks for the adress and link, take care Dr Shock

  4. Dr Shock on January 19th, 2011 at 9:47 pm
  5. [...] A medical research among participants proves that chocolate intake (drinking or eating dark chocolates) actually help improve the system fight against cardiovascular diseases. [...]

  6. Chocolate is Super Alright « Blue skies, on February 9th, 2011 at 10:40 am
  7. [...] Goes Up Scientific link between the Super Bowl and heart disease – a blog post from Big Think 4. Chocolate and Cardiovascular Benefits Studies suggest a beneficial link between chocolate and cardiovascular disease – a blog post [...]

  8. Beaker » Blog Archive » Blog Your Heart Out! on February 12th, 2011 at 12:02 am
  9. Right from childhood, we have been taught to try and avoid chocolates. The reason often given for this advice was that chocolates can have a damaging effect on your health, especially the teeth. However, recent studies have revealed that such ideas are deeply misplaced. But one needs to understand that these theories are applicable only for dark chocolate with a high cocoa content.

  10. namita on August 30th, 2011 at 3:00 pm
  11. Chocolate doesn’t only feed the urge of our taste buds, instead it has content that help us alleviate stress.

  12. Jill Duggan Karen Hanover on December 2nd, 2011 at 1:25 pm
  13. [...] A medical research among participants proves that chocolate intake (drinking or eating dark chocolates) actually help improve the system fight against cardiovascular diseases. [...]

  14. Chocolate Super Alright | health + pc geek on December 11th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
  1. “Kuna Indians are drinking the unadulterated, unstripped cocoa, its bitterness tempered by sugar. ”

    That sounds a little like a sentence from
    http://realestate-panama.blogspot.com/2007/03/kuna-indians-of-panama-with-magical.html
    Would be interesting to see if epicatchin did have an effect purely by itself as a supplement.

    I’d recommend just getting in contact with Prof Hollenberg (he’s studied the Kuna for 16 years, so likely could tell you!)

    He’s down as Harvard Medical School / Brigham and women’s hospital – a teaching affiliate of HMS. Physiology Research –
    Contact:
    Norman K Hollenberg, MD, PhD
    Director, Physiologic Research Division
    Department of Radiology
    Brigham and Women’s Hospital
    Professor of Medicine
    Harvard Medical School
    Boston, MA 02115
    Tel: 617-732-6682

    he’s probably something @partners.org but they seem to not to like to give email addresses/use phone more.

    An alternative is to give a cocoafiend a bell on twitter – eg William Harcourt-cooze
    @WilliesCacao

  2. Tom on January 19th, 2011 at 11:21 am
  3. Thanks for the adress and link, take care Dr Shock

  4. Dr Shock on January 19th, 2011 at 9:47 pm
  5. [...] A medical research among participants proves that chocolate intake (drinking or eating dark chocolates) actually help improve the system fight against cardiovascular diseases. [...]

  6. Chocolate is Super Alright « Blue skies, on February 9th, 2011 at 10:40 am
  7. [...] Goes Up Scientific link between the Super Bowl and heart disease – a blog post from Big Think 4. Chocolate and Cardiovascular Benefits Studies suggest a beneficial link between chocolate and cardiovascular disease – a blog post [...]

  8. Beaker » Blog Archive » Blog Your Heart Out! on February 12th, 2011 at 12:02 am
  9. Right from childhood, we have been taught to try and avoid chocolates. The reason often given for this advice was that chocolates can have a damaging effect on your health, especially the teeth. However, recent studies have revealed that such ideas are deeply misplaced. But one needs to understand that these theories are applicable only for dark chocolate with a high cocoa content.

  10. namita on August 30th, 2011 at 3:00 pm
  11. Chocolate doesn’t only feed the urge of our taste buds, instead it has content that help us alleviate stress.

  12. Jill Duggan Karen Hanover on December 2nd, 2011 at 1:25 pm
  13. [...] A medical research among participants proves that chocolate intake (drinking or eating dark chocolates) actually help improve the system fight against cardiovascular diseases. [...]

  14. Chocolate Super Alright | health + pc geek on December 11th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
  1. “Kuna Indians are drinking the unadulterated, unstripped cocoa, its bitterness tempered by sugar. ”

    That sounds a little like a sentence from
    http://realestate-panama.blogspot.com/2007/03/kuna-indians-of-panama-with-magical.html
    Would be interesting to see if epicatchin did have an effect purely by itself as a supplement.

    I’d recommend just getting in contact with Prof Hollenberg (he’s studied the Kuna for 16 years, so likely could tell you!)

    He’s down as Harvard Medical School / Brigham and women’s hospital – a teaching affiliate of HMS. Physiology Research –
    Contact:
    Norman K Hollenberg, MD, PhD
    Director, Physiologic Research Division
    Department of Radiology
    Brigham and Women’s Hospital
    Professor of Medicine
    Harvard Medical School
    Boston, MA 02115
    Tel: 617-732-6682

    he’s probably something @partners.org but they seem to not to like to give email addresses/use phone more.

    An alternative is to give a cocoafiend a bell on twitter – eg William Harcourt-cooze
    @WilliesCacao

  2. Tom on January 19th, 2011 at 11:21 am
  3. Thanks for the adress and link, take care Dr Shock

  4. Dr Shock on January 19th, 2011 at 9:47 pm
  5. [...] A medical research among participants proves that chocolate intake (drinking or eating dark chocolates) actually help improve the system fight against cardiovascular diseases. [...]

  6. Chocolate is Super Alright « Blue skies, on February 9th, 2011 at 10:40 am
  7. [...] Goes Up Scientific link between the Super Bowl and heart disease – a blog post from Big Think 4. Chocolate and Cardiovascular Benefits Studies suggest a beneficial link between chocolate and cardiovascular disease – a blog post [...]

  8. Beaker » Blog Archive » Blog Your Heart Out! on February 12th, 2011 at 12:02 am
  9. Right from childhood, we have been taught to try and avoid chocolates. The reason often given for this advice was that chocolates can have a damaging effect on your health, especially the teeth. However, recent studies have revealed that such ideas are deeply misplaced. But one needs to understand that these theories are applicable only for dark chocolate with a high cocoa content.

  10. namita on August 30th, 2011 at 3:00 pm
  11. Chocolate doesn’t only feed the urge of our taste buds, instead it has content that help us alleviate stress.

  12. Jill Duggan Karen Hanover on December 2nd, 2011 at 1:25 pm
  13. [...] A medical research among participants proves that chocolate intake (drinking or eating dark chocolates) actually help improve the system fight against cardiovascular diseases. [...]

  14. Chocolate Super Alright | health + pc geek on December 11th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
  1. “Kuna Indians are drinking the unadulterated, unstripped cocoa, its bitterness tempered by sugar. ”

    That sounds a little like a sentence from
    http://realestate-panama.blogspot.com/2007/03/kuna-indians-of-panama-with-magical.html
    Would be interesting to see if epicatchin did have an effect purely by itself as a supplement.

    I’d recommend just getting in contact with Prof Hollenberg (he’s studied the Kuna for 16 years, so likely could tell you!)

    He’s down as Harvard Medical School / Brigham and women’s hospital – a teaching affiliate of HMS. Physiology Research –
    Contact:
    Norman K Hollenberg, MD, PhD
    Director, Physiologic Research Division
    Department of Radiology
    Brigham and Women’s Hospital
    Professor of Medicine
    Harvard Medical School
    Boston, MA 02115
    Tel: 617-732-6682

    he’s probably something @partners.org but they seem to not to like to give email addresses/use phone more.

    An alternative is to give a cocoafiend a bell on twitter – eg William Harcourt-cooze
    @WilliesCacao

  2. Tom on January 19th, 2011 at 11:21 am
  3. Thanks for the adress and link, take care Dr Shock

  4. Dr Shock on January 19th, 2011 at 9:47 pm
  5. [...] A medical research among participants proves that chocolate intake (drinking or eating dark chocolates) actually help improve the system fight against cardiovascular diseases. [...]

  6. Chocolate is Super Alright « Blue skies, on February 9th, 2011 at 10:40 am
  7. [...] Goes Up Scientific link between the Super Bowl and heart disease – a blog post from Big Think 4. Chocolate and Cardiovascular Benefits Studies suggest a beneficial link between chocolate and cardiovascular disease – a blog post [...]

  8. Beaker » Blog Archive » Blog Your Heart Out! on February 12th, 2011 at 12:02 am
  9. Right from childhood, we have been taught to try and avoid chocolates. The reason often given for this advice was that chocolates can have a damaging effect on your health, especially the teeth. However, recent studies have revealed that such ideas are deeply misplaced. But one needs to understand that these theories are applicable only for dark chocolate with a high cocoa content.

  10. namita on August 30th, 2011 at 3:00 pm
  11. Chocolate doesn’t only feed the urge of our taste buds, instead it has content that help us alleviate stress.

  12. Jill Duggan Karen Hanover on December 2nd, 2011 at 1:25 pm
  13. [...] A medical research among participants proves that chocolate intake (drinking or eating dark chocolates) actually help improve the system fight against cardiovascular diseases. [...]

  14. Chocolate Super Alright | health + pc geek on December 11th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
  1. “Kuna Indians are drinking the unadulterated, unstripped cocoa, its bitterness tempered by sugar. ”

    That sounds a little like a sentence from
    http://realestate-panama.blogspot.com/2007/03/kuna-indians-of-panama-with-magical.html
    Would be interesting to see if epicatchin did have an effect purely by itself as a supplement.

    I’d recommend just getting in contact with Prof Hollenberg (he’s studied the Kuna for 16 years, so likely could tell you!)

    He’s down as Harvard Medical School / Brigham and women’s hospital – a teaching affiliate of HMS. Physiology Research –
    Contact:
    Norman K Hollenberg, MD, PhD
    Director, Physiologic Research Division
    Department of Radiology
    Brigham and Women’s Hospital
    Professor of Medicine
    Harvard Medical School
    Boston, MA 02115
    Tel: 617-732-6682

    he’s probably something @partners.org but they seem to not to like to give email addresses/use phone more.

    An alternative is to give a cocoafiend a bell on twitter – eg William Harcourt-cooze
    @WilliesCacao

  2. Tom on January 19th, 2011 at 11:21 am
  3. Thanks for the adress and link, take care Dr Shock

  4. Dr Shock on January 19th, 2011 at 9:47 pm
  5. [...] A medical research among participants proves that chocolate intake (drinking or eating dark chocolates) actually help improve the system fight against cardiovascular diseases. [...]

  6. Chocolate is Super Alright « Blue skies, on February 9th, 2011 at 10:40 am
  7. [...] Goes Up Scientific link between the Super Bowl and heart disease – a blog post from Big Think 4. Chocolate and Cardiovascular Benefits Studies suggest a beneficial link between chocolate and cardiovascular disease – a blog post [...]

  8. Beaker » Blog Archive » Blog Your Heart Out! on February 12th, 2011 at 12:02 am
  9. Right from childhood, we have been taught to try and avoid chocolates. The reason often given for this advice was that chocolates can have a damaging effect on your health, especially the teeth. However, recent studies have revealed that such ideas are deeply misplaced. But one needs to understand that these theories are applicable only for dark chocolate with a high cocoa content.

  10. namita on August 30th, 2011 at 3:00 pm
  11. Chocolate doesn’t only feed the urge of our taste buds, instead it has content that help us alleviate stress.

  12. Jill Duggan Karen Hanover on December 2nd, 2011 at 1:25 pm
  13. [...] A medical research among participants proves that chocolate intake (drinking or eating dark chocolates) actually help improve the system fight against cardiovascular diseases. [...]

  14. Chocolate Super Alright | health + pc geek on December 11th, 2011 at 3:44 pm

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