Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Another Study on Chocolate and Heart Health 2011

Have you heard about this new study that the mass media is saying proclaims the benefits of eating all types of chocolate?  Your Chocolate Priestess has heard it but around here we don't accept the mass media version of scientific studies if we can look at them ourselves.

The study is called "Chocolate ccnsumption and cardiometabolic disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis" and the title immediately tells us two things: This was not a new study but a review of other studies. We are looking at a wide range of medical conditions called "cardiometabolic disorders."

This review and meta-analysis seems like it was done in a thorough and objective fashion by they had criteria which means they didn't include every chocolate study out there.  This is their criteria: "Studies were included if they were randomised controlled trials or cohort, case-control, or cross sectional studies; carried out in adults (≥18 years old); studied the effects of levels of chocolate consumption; the outcomes of interest were related to cardiometabolic disorders (cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, stroke, ischaemic heart disease, heart failure, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome); and had no language restriction (if necessary, local scientists fluent in the original language helped with translation)."  The results of this selection process were seven studies that collectively had "114 009 participants."

The studies chosen for analysis did not differ between the type of chocolate product used so the results of this meta-analysis cannot differ.  This does not mean that white chocolate is as healthy as dark or that different level of cacao content are equally healthy.  It merely means there were general trends from these seven studies that we'll now look at.

The six studies that looked at any cardiovascular disease measured an association of less risk among the highest chocolate consuming participants.  Strokes in three studies also showed less risk among the highest consumption participants.  But the two studies about heart failure were almost polar opposites in their findings.  Diabetes was only studied in one case and showed a decrease as well for higher chocolate consumption levels.

Overall this meta-analysis concluded that higher levels of chocolate consumption were associated with about 1/3 less risk of developing cardiovascular disease.  They wisely caution us to be aware that not all chocolate is created equal and that added sweeteners and fats may be harmful or at least lower the beneficial qualities of cacao.

So don't use this study as an excuse to pig out.  Indeed the amount that were considered higher levels of consumption varied widely between the studies analyzed and how often the participants ate the chocolate in a variety of forms.  In none of them was the consumption daily for example and I'm betting a lot of us here on The Chocolate Cult consume our Sacred Substance daily or multiple times a week, don't we?

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