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“Chocolate Studies are Clouded in Confusion”

A late August 2018 headline proclaimed the good news: “Three bars of chocolate a month can reduce chances of heart failure.” Also, some research has shown that small amounts of chocolate (especially dark chocolate) may be good for your heart, your brain, and even your eyes. Another recent meta-analysis found that eating chocolate lowered the relative risk of heart failure, stroke, heart attack, and coronary heart disease. The study indicated that 45 g/week (almost exactly the size of a regular Hershey bar) was the most effective amount of chocolate to eat for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. But wait, because too much chocolate cancels out any healthy effects. The researchers’ main finding was that people who eat a lot of chocolate (like on a daily basis) had a 17% greater risk of heart failure than people who ate no chocolate. Still, another study found that moderate chocolate consumption may reduce the risk of heart failure” by 23%. They categorized “moderate chocolate consumption” as one to three (not simply three) servings a month. The compounds in chocolate that are believed to work wonders are flavanols, and dark chocolate contains up to two to three times more flavanols than milk chocolate. Flavanols are a type of polyphenol, a group of natural compounds found in plants, that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Consuming flavanols appears to increase vasodilation, which lowers blood pressure and reduces cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes.

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