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Crack out the Dairy Milk; milk chocolate could reduce your risk of heart disease

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A new medical study has linked milk chocolate to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Hurrah.

The study, using data from around 21,000 men and women in Norfolk, was conducted by researchers at the University of Aberdeen. The results show that those who had a higher chocolate intake - eating up to 100g of chocolate every day (that’s the equivalent of one of those big Green & Blacks bars) - had a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.  

The results come from a wider study that is tracking the impact of diet on long-term health on a group over the course of 12 years.

Chocolate lovers were 23% less likely to suffer from stroke and 11% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those who had no chocolate at all – even taking into account other dietary and environmental factors.

There was also a 9% lower risk of hospital admission or death from coronary problems.

Team-leader, Professor Phyo Myint from the University of Aberdeen, said that: "Our study concludes that cumulative evidence suggests higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future cardiovascular events."

The study, published in the British medical journal, Heart, also revealed that, contrary to popular opinion, milk chocolate provides health benefits as most participants reported to eating only milk chocolate, not dark.

Dark chocolate has long been associated with healthy hearts due to its protective molecules called flavonoids. Since milk chocolate has fewer flavonoids than dark, the study concluded that other elements of milk chocolate could be the cause.

“This may indicate that not only flavonoids but also other compounds, possibly related to milk constituents such as calcium and fatty acids, may provide an explanation for the observed association,” it said.

Chocolate

However, scientists have been keen to assert that the results were not 100% conclusive and that the link might be purely circumstantial.

They have warned that the results didn’t prove chocolate will make you healthier.

Speaking to the BBC, Professor Myint said: "We can't say for sure it could cause these benefits.”

"The group that showed a benefit consumed 16g to 100g a day of chocolate. Most of them probably consumed around 100g a week rather than 100g a day and the results we see are group effects so we can't say eating 100g a day will do good."

The professor was also keen to press that, as chocolate was rich in fat and carbohydrate, it was important to burn off the extra calories.

Dr Tim Chico, consultant cardiologist at the University of Sheffield, said:

"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.”

But he added:

"I would not advise my patients to increase their chocolate intake based on this research, particularly if they are overweight."

Well, it’s certainly food for thought! *unwraps Dairy Milk*

Words: Harriet Hall

Images: ThinkStock

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