Thursday, August 19, 2010


Looks like if you need dessert, after a nice meal, dark chocolate would be a good choice, noting its many cardiac goodness. I think that we have written about the potential BP lowering effects, the cardiovascular protective effects, and now, the potential heart failure risk reduction effects.
The 17th August issue of Circulation : Heart Failure, carried an article on the effects of dark chocolates on heart failure. This group of researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, led by Dr Elizabeth Mostofysky, followed prospectively, 31,823, females age 48-83, over the last nine years, in what is called the Swedish Mammography Cohort. ( I have no idea how the Boston people, got to followup Swedish subjects ). Anyway, at their annual followup, they had to fill in a questionaire about their weight, body mass index, exercise program, and also their eating habits, food patterns, and of course, their admission to hospitals. It appears that after 9 years of follow-up, those who were on dark chocolates, 1-2 times a week and those on dark chocolates, 1-3 times a month, should a significant reduction in incidence of heart failure. ( 26% reduction if you take dark chocolates 1-3 times a month, and 32% reduction if you take dark chocolates 1-2 times a week ). Surprisingly, if you take more then twice a week or less then once a month, there is no correlation. Interesting.
It is important to know that Swedish dark chocolates contain about 30% cocoa, unlike US dark chocolates that contain only about 15% cocoa. The amount of milk does not seem so important, if you have 30% cocoa.
I suppose, we should not that this is very much an observational study, and by no means conclusive. Much more work need to be done about flavinoids and their cardio-protective effects, for us to be firm. Of course there is always the sugar / calories issue. Too much chocolate ca make you fat, although I do not think that 100 gms of dark chocolate daily, twice a week would make you fat. If you wish to indulge yourself into whole bars daily, then that is indulgence, and not " medical nutriceuticals ".
It just struck me that should you be visiting a friend who is hospitalised with heart failure, a small bar of dark chocolate, may be a good get well present to bring.

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