A chocolate a day keeps womens heart attacks away?

May 17, 2008

The University of East Anglia is conducting a study on the health benefits of chocolate, specifically relating to risk of heart disease in women. In the first clinical trial of its kind, the researchers at UEA will be asking postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes to eat a specially formulated chocolate bar which has been developed with the help of a Belgian chocolatier for this study. It will provide a higher dose of the protective compounds in cocoa than found in standard chocolate and to maximise the potential benefits, soy has also been added. Soy is another great source of flavonoids, which have been shown to benefit the heart-health of women. This is particularly important for women over 50, because the hormonal changes at that time means that deaths due to heart disease increase rapidly after the menopause, and having type 2 diabetes increases this risk by a further three-and-a-half times.

According to Professor Aedin Cassidy, the lead researcher and Professor of Diet and Health at UEA, “Despite postmenopausal women being at a similar risk to men for developing cardiovascular disease, to date they are under-represented in clinical trials. We hope to show that adding flavonoids to their diets will provide additional protection from heart disease and give women the opportunity to take more control over reducing their risk of heart disease in the future.” Funded by Diabetes UK, I would have thought the health benefits of chocolate had been thoroughly explored, certainly by me on a regular basis, but if any of you are still in doubt: per ounce, chocolate has more antioxidants than fruit, vegetables, tea or wine, with dark chocolate having twice the antioxidants of milk chocolate but you will get the most benefit, as usual, from eating organic. Looks like sales of Green & Black’s organic chocolate bars is set to rise!

Interested in taking part? The researchers at UEA are recruiting 150 women under the age of 70 who have type 2 diabetes and have not had a period for at least one year (and are not taking HRT). If you fit the profile you will also need to have been prescribed cholesterol lowering drugs (statins) for at least one year. To find out more, or to volunteer, please telephone 01603 288570 and ask for Andrea Brown (study nurse) or Dr Peter Curtis (study co-ordinator) or email FLAVO@uea.ac.uk.

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