0712 GMT February 18, 2020
There doesn't seem to be any evidence for cutting out chocolate to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, concluded the researchers, BBC said.
They based their findings on almost 21,000 adults taking part in the EPIC-Norfolk study, which was tracking the impact of diet on the long term health of 25,000 men and women in Norfolk, England, using food frequency and lifestyle questionnaires.
The researchers also carried out a systematic review of the available international published evidence on the links between chocolate and cardiovascular disease, involving almost 158,000 people — including the EPIC study participants.
The EPIC-Norfolk participants (9214 men and 11 737 women) were monitored for an average of almost 12 years, during which time 3013 (14 percent) people experienced either an episode of fatal or non-fatal coronary heart disease or stroke.
Around one in five (20 percent) participants said they did not eat any chocolate, but among the others, daily consumption averaged 7 g, with some eating up to 100 g.
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 favorable 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.
The calculations showed that compared with those who ate no chocolate higher intake was linked to an 11 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 25 percent lower risk of associated death.
It was also associated with a 9 percent lower risk of hospital admission or death as a result of coronary heart disease, after taking account of dietary factors.
And among the 16,000 people whose inflammatory protein (CRP) level had been measured, those eating the most chocolate seemed to have an 18 percent lower risk than those who ate the least.
The highest chocolate intake was similarly associated with a 23 percent lower risk of stroke, even after taking account of other potential risk factors.