Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Heart Attacks & Chocolate

Sisters and Brothers, I'm sure you've heard the reports that eating chocolate improved the survival rates of people who had heart attacks.  Your Chocolate Priestess has put off discussing this to see if new reports and try to assess the information available to the layperson better.  As we get into the fall and weather holiday months where calories will flow like water and candies, pastries and treats will abound, I think it's time to look at these reports.

Most of the reports are short.  Explaining only that researchers in Europe with some American confirmation saw a higher survival rate among heart attack patients eight years later that reflects a higher consumption of chocolate.   These short reports do little than fan the flame of chocolate = healthy that is being used as a sludge hammer to try and sell more cocoa related products.

Longer reports gave a bit more information.  The benefits of chocolate were greatest among those who ate it 2+ times a week and seem to apply to men and women of all ages.  The Swedish study of 1169 people also tried to take into consideration other health factors such as weight, consumption of other drinks, foods, and drugs, and smoking.  Chocolate was also found to reduce rates of heart attacks in older men and post-menopausal women.

However, after this small flood of news articles about chocolate and heart attacks, no more has been said about.  My guess is that the general public maybe getting a bit tired and frankly suspicious of all of the cocoa health claims coming out over the past few years.  These health reports are also competing in the USA with coverage of the health care debate which has also targeted being overweight with increased health care costs.

So are chocolate and cocoa healthy for you or not?

To this point, and I am no doctor or scientist on such matters, Sisters and Brothers, only your Priestess applying logical and rational thought to the reports she has seen since the start of 2009, I can see a few positives about chocolate and health.  At high level of cocoa content, 80+% there do indeed seem to be benefits if you eat a little, around 3 ounces, a day.  With all other cocoa contents you need to practice moderation and be very wary of the amount and type of fat, calories, and sugars in that piece of chocolate.  No where do any of these studies indicate that simply eating chocolate of the right cocoa content and in the right amounts is a substitute for other healthy activities in your life.

All of this, absolutely all of this, fits perfectly with The Chocolate Cult's focus on moderation and purposefulness.  Never eat chocolate you buy from the check out line simply because you are bored or lonely or sad.  Consider where that chocolate came from, how it was created, and serious study that nutritional label before you buy.  Then set aside time to appreciate what you are about to eat or drink, think about how it affects all of your senses, and enjoy this wonderful substance that the Divine and human imagination have created for us. 

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Information gleamed from the following sources:
There were several other reports as well but they basically included nothing beyond these first two that I saw.

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