Close up of elderly man having a heart attack

There is exciting news for chocolate lovers! A study in the Journal of Internal Medicine reported the results of a study, which indicates that heart attack survivors who eat chocolate two or more times a week reduce their risk of perishing from heart disease by three times over those that live an anti-chocolate life.

The Chocolate-Loving World Rejoices

Those that quiver at the thought of giving up chocolate will be happy to hear that smaller quantities provide less protection but are better than consuming none at all. A strong link was established between cocoa-based treats and lowered blood pressure or improved blood flow in a previous study as well.

The study showed that eating chocolate can help ward off death if you have suffered from a heart attack. In fact, it established that chocolate reduces the rate of heart-related mortality in post-menopausal women and healthy older men alike. Kenneth Mukamal, a researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and coauthor of the study led by Imre Janszky of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, stated, “It [the results] was specific to chocolate – we found no benefit to sweets in general.”

Antioxidant Power in Chocolate

Mukamal reported that the antioxidants in cocoa are likely the life-saving culprit. Antioxidants are com- pounds that guard against free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that build up in the body and can damage cells. They are thought to contribute to heart disease, cancer and the aging process.

The Study Details

The study was performed in Stockholm County during the early 1990s. Janszky and colleagues followed 1,169 non-diabetic men and women. They were in the age range of 45 to 70. There were monitored from the time they were first hospitalized with their first heart attack, and were queried prior to leaving the hospital on their food consumption habits during the previous year. The information collected included the amount of chocolate they ate on a regular basis.

The patients submitted to a health examination three months after their discharge and were monitored for eight years afterward. The more chocolate the patients ate, the less occurrences of fatal heart attacks resulted. These results applied to both men and women in all age groups in the study.

The Bottom Line

The researchers concluded, “Our findings support increasing evidence that chocolate is a rich source of beneficial bioactive compounds.” The antioxidants in the cocoa seem to provide the benefit of protecting against the free radicals that are believed to cause cancer, promote the aging process, and even heart disease.

This news willing bring a big smile to the faces of those chocolate lovers that have previously suffered an acute myocardial infarction and have since tried to reduce their sweet intake – including chocolate. They now have a scientific license to include chocolate in their diet to improve their health and well being.

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