For all the chocolate lovers out there, you might be able to support your consumption of chocolate using health related reasons. A study performed by Sweden researchers discovered that people who eat chocolate have an increased survival rate after acquiring a heart attack.
The study include 1,169 subjects both nondiabetic men and women who had been previously hospitalized for their first heart attack. The subjects had to fill out a uniform health questionnaire, which had questions regarding chocolate consumptions within the past 12 months. Chocolate, through previous researches, has been known to contain flavonoid antioxidants that are presumed to be beneficial for cardiovascular diseases.
Three months after being discharged from the hospital, the patients were involved in health examinations and were followed by researchers for the next eight months. The researchers also used the Swedish national registries of hospitalization and deaths in order to examine their patient’s activities within those eight months. In order to legitimize the study and ensure that the consumption of chocolate was causing the increase in survival rate, researchers had to control age, sex, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, education, and other factors.
However, before concluding that this study shows a cause and effect correlation, we must scrutinize the study’s weaknesses. The fact that the study was observational and not randomized suggests that we cannot ascertain that it was cause and effect. Although researchers had considered many other factors, they had not accounted for the idea of placebo effect. It may be that the increase in survival rate was due to the improvement in mental health caused by chocolate consumption. Moreover, the scientists also did not examine what type of chocolate the patients were consuming; milk chocolate is known to have less flavonoid than dark chocolate. Though the chocolate consumption showed an increase in survival of patients who had suffered from a heart attack, it did not confirm a reduction in risk for nonfatal cardiac events.
The study does have many factors that could invalidate the results; however, Dr. David L. Katz, an associate professor of public health a Yale believed that the study was “an interesting element, following a group of adults who’ve had a heart attack and noting an impressive reduction in cardiac deaths.”
Another interesting component of the study was that as the patients consumed more chocolate, their risk of death decreased. Compared to the patients who consumed no chocolate, those who ate it less than once a month had a 27 percent reduction in risk of cardiac death; those who ate it once a week had a 44 percent reduction, while those who ate it twice or more a week had a remarkable 66 percent reduced in risk for cardiac death.
According to Dr. Kenneth J. Mukamal, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard, there has been tons of data suggesting that chocolate lowered blood pressure, which might be the reason why there was a decrease in risk of cardiac death in this particular study.
Dr. Katz said, “I like the study. It adds to the general fund of knowledge we already have.”
However, before we all begin replacing health snacks with chocolate, Dr. Mukamal suggested a note of caution, “Although this is interesting and provocative, chocolate does not come without costs. For people looking for a small snack to finish a meal, this is a great choice. But it should be supplementing healthy eating and replacing less healthy snacks.”