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Chocolate May Lower Risk of Death by Heart Disease - Dutch Study Suggests Cocoa can Lower Blood Pressure and Lead to Better Health

February 27th 2006

Chocolate May Lower Risk of Death by Heart Disease - Dutch Study Suggests Cocoa can Lower Blood Pressure and Lead to Better Health

Unsweetened Dark Chocolate Best

Researchers from the Netherlands say that chocolate consumers were half as likely to die from cardiovascular problems as those who did not partake in the sweet products.  The data was extrapolated from Zutphen Elderly Study conducted between 1985 and 2000. 

Brian Bujisse of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in Bilthoven, measured the cocoa intake of 470 men between the ages of 65 and 84. 

The researchers measured how many grams of cocoa each man consumed and divided the men into three groups according to their intake.  ABC News reported that the men who ate the most cocoa products had half the “risk of death”.  The experts have identified 24 cocoa-containing foods that the elderly men ate.  None of the men were taking blood pressure medicine, according to a report in Scientific American.    


The cocoa products included cocoa drinks, chocolate bars and chocolate pudding.  The Dutch researchers say that it’s too early to conclude that chocolate led to better health.  It is possible flavanols in the cocoa increased the nitric oxide in the blood to improved the function of blood vessels. 

Buijsse said that the men that ate the most cocoa products were not heavier or bigger eaters than the men who ate less cocoa.  The BBC said men in the group with the highest cocoa consumption were half as likely as the others to die from cardiovascular disease.


Flavan-3-oils, found in chocolate, have been linked to lower blood pressure and improved function of the lining of blood vessels.  Cocoa is also a rich source of antioxidants.  Antioxidants reduce the damage caused by free radicals released by the body’s energy-producing process.

Experts warn consumers that not all chocolate is the same.  Most chocolate bars contain sugar and fat that can lead to weight gain.  The extra weight is a risk factor for heart disease and could outweigh the benefits derived from the chocolate.  According to WebMD, dark chocolate offers the most benefits, with the least negative effects.  The health benefits may result from just half a bar a day.    

The results were published in the JAMA Archives of Internal Medicine. 

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By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:50 PM