A stack of chocolate bars sits on a table before being wrapped at the Mast Brothers Chocolate factory in the Brooklyn borough of New York July 8, 2010.
Dark Chocolate offers relief to the patients suffering from PAD. Reuters/stringer

It’s not just an apple a day that keeps the doctor away. Latest study says that chocolates are good in preventing heart attacks and strokes.

According to a new study by the University of Aberdeen in UK, published in the Heart journal on Monday, eating 16 to 100 grammes of chocolate daily lowers the heart disease and stroke risk, reports Washington Post. One hundred grammes is about two bars of classic Hershey’s or five Godiva truffles. The study said the chocolate intake could be in different forms of chocolate such as Mars bars to hot cocoa.

Chocolate is full of flavonoid antioxidants, according to the study. Past researches also found that this childhood and adult favorite comfort food improves the functioning of the inner lining of the blood vessels called endothelium. Many chocolates also have nuts which are likewise good for heart health.

The study had 25,000 British volunteers, aged 39 to 70, who ate daily the recommended chocolate intake daily which translates into 500 to 535 calories. That’s 18 to 25 percent of the Department of Agriculture-recommended calorie consumption for men daily. The researchers included in the study other risk factors such as age, cigarette and alcohol consumption, physical activity and other dietary factors.

The EPIC-Norfolk study spanned 12 years. During this period, the volunteers gave information about their eating habits, exercise and lifestyle. Their weight, blood pressure and other indicators of cardiovascular health were periodically monitored. When the study ended, only 3,000, or about 14 percent, of the total volunteers had a coronary heart disease or stroke, reports Forbes.

Those who consumed higher levels of chocolates in the study had lower body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, systolic blood pressure, inflammatory proteins and surprisingly, even diabetes. They also had 11 percent lower risk for cardiovascular ailments and 25 percent lower risk of associated death.

One more new finding of the study is that more of the participants ate milk chocolate, not dark chocolate which other studies said is healthier. However, rather than pit milk against dark chocolate, Phyo Mint, one of the research’s lead authors and a professor at the University of Aberdeen’s School of Medicine, said beneficial effects of chocolate apply to both milk and dark varieties.

“I think a little chocolate is okay for a reasonably healthy adult without major risk factors or at least not too many of them,” Mint concluded. However, he added, “People don’t need to consume too much chocolate for it to have potential benefits,” as the professor recommended using the lower end of the recommended daily intake of 16 grammes, rather than the higher end of 100 grammes.

In other words, Mint is saying what is considered a good benchmark in eating. That is – take everything in moderation.

To contact the writer, email: vittoriohernandez@yahoo.com