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Scientists Have Found More Reasons to Justify Your Chocolate Habit

New research published in the British Medical Journal’s Heart magazine shows that eating chocolate each day—and not necessarily the unpalatable dark kind—may lower the risk of heart disease and strokes.
Phoebe Hurst
London, GB

Another day, another tidbit of scientific research proclaiming to prove/disprove long held beliefs about what we put in our mouths. Indian food is delicious? Well, duh. Pregnant women can eat sushi now? If you say so. Fruit is bad for you? Erm, #science.

But today's research will prick the ears of even the most jaded health news followers. According to a new study published in the British Medical Journal's cardiology magazine, Heart, eating a moderate amount of chocolate every day could lower the risk of heart disease and strokes.


READ MORE: This Guy Eats Chocolate for Every Meal and Is Probably Healthier Than You

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen looked at the eating habits of more than 20,000 middle aged and elderly people over an 11-year period, finding that compared to those who consumed no chocolate, participants who ate up to a small bar of chocolate per day had an 11 percent lesser risk of cardiovascular disease and a 23 percent reduced risk of stroke.

Forgetting for a minute that this claim sounds uncannily like last month's "chocolate diet" hoax, the researchers did note that those who ate the most chocolate tended to be younger, lower in weight, and engaged in regular physical activity—things which make for better cardiovascular health, anyway.

As reported by the BBC, Professor Phyo Myint at the University of Aberdeen's School of Medicine & Dentistry also pointed out that the study is observational and "therefore we can't imply the cause and effect relationship. We can't say for sure it [chocolate consumption] could cause these benefits."

Of course, it's not the first time chocolate's health benefits have been touted, with cocoa products being linked to everything from stress reduction to anti-aging. However the University of Aberdeen's study did note that most of its participants were not eating the 90-percent, health-food-shop chocolate usually lauded as a "superfood," but your standard bars of milk chocolate.


What this may show is that it's not just the protective flavonoid molecules found in dark chocolate that contribute to lower risk of heart disease, but "other compounds, possibly related to milk constituents such as calcium and fatty acids," too.

READ MORE: Anti-Aging Chocolate Wants to Smooth Your Skin From the Inside Out

If you were planning on using this as an excuse for an evening spent catching up with Game of Thrones and a family-size bar of Dairy Milk, Dr Tim Chico, a consultant cardiologist at the University of Sheffield, has a few words of warning.

"The message I take from this study is that if you are a healthy weight, then eating chocolate (in moderation) does not detectably increase risk of heart disease and may even have some benefit," he told the BBC. "I would not advise my patients to increase their chocolate intake based on this research, particularly if they are overweight."

Save your comments for next week's "Chocolate Can Actually Kill You" headlines, Dr Chico.