By Rachel Raya
I love reading happy news about chocolate. So imagine my delight when I stumbled upon this British Medical Journal study, which suggests that high levels of chocolate consumption may be associated with a one-third reduction in the risk of cardiovascular events.
My favorite part of that sentence is “high levels of chocolate consumption.” Granted, I would eat chocolate whether or not it lowered my risk of cardiovascular disease, but a lower risk of heart attack and stroke is a nice bonus.
Chocolate lovers like me need to be careful about how we “interpret” study results such as this one, says Dr. Clyde Sullivan, a cardiologist on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen.
For one thing, Dr. Sullivan says, we must “note that the risk reduction is a relative risk reduction and not an absolute risk reduction.”
“Many studies have pointed out the benefit of chocolate on heart disease,” Dr. Sullivan said. “But we still do not know what about chocolate gives the benefit.”
The downside, he said, is the calories.
“If you reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by eating chocolate, but gain 20 pounds in the end, you are likely worse off overall,” Dr. Sullivan said.
The British Medical Journal researchers suggested that, given the apparent benefits of chocolate, we should explore efforts to lower its fat and sugar content. But Dr. Sullivan cautioned that until we know the specific component of chocolate that provides benefits to the heart, we should be careful about altering it.