Is chocolate good for your heart?

October 14, 2008

Well, knowing me as you do you can bet the answer is yes – in fact I haven’t found anything it isn’t good for – though to be honest I haven’t looked very hard! You can imagine my delight when some wonderful Italian researchers recently calculated how much chocolate we need daily to protect against heart disease. Sadly, it’s not much – only 6.7 grams – about the amount you would get from eating two or three small squares of dark chocolate per week = as if that were possible! However, as part of one of the largest health studies ever conducted in Europe, they checked participants’ levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for chronic inflammation in the body that indicates an increased risk of heart disease. Then they related CRP levels to chocolate intake and found that participants who ate moderate amounts of dark chocolate regularly had significantly lower levels of CRP. Sadly, I feel must also point out that if you do eat more than the equivalent of 6.7 grams of chocolate per day, the beneficial effects on CRP levels seem to disappear. That’s a plus for those self-disciplined souls who can open a bar of chocolate and not consume it all, and a blow for those who can’t!


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