Dark chocolate Easter eggs good for your heart?

Easter eggs and other chocolate may be good for you – at least in small quantities and preferably if it’s dark chocolate – according to research that shows just one small square of chocolate a day can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. The study is published online in the European Heart Journal.

Researchers in Germany followed 19,357 people, aged between 35 and 65, for at least ten years, and found that those who ate the most amount of chocolate – an average of 7.5 grams a day – had lower blood pressure and a 39% lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke compared to those who ate the least amount of chocolate – an average of 1.7 grams a day.

The difference between the two groups amounts to six grams of chocolate: the equivalent of less than one small square of a 100g bar.

For those who believe in the Easter bunny (or at least in what he is believed to bring), good news awaits.
Just one small square of chocolate a day might help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk for heart disease.
After analyzing the diet and health habits of 19,357 people, aged 35 to 65, for at least 10 years, German researchers found that those who ate the most chocolate (an average of 7.5 grams, or 0.3 ounces, a day) had lower blood pressure and were 39 percent less likely to have a heart attack than those who ate the least amount of chocolate (an average of 1.7 grams, or 0.06 ounces, a day).
“To put that in terms of absolute risk, if people in the group eating the least amount of chocolate [of whom 219 per 10,000 had a heart attack or stroke] increased their chocolate intake by 6 grams [0.2 ounces] a day, 85 fewer heart attacks and strokes per 10,000 people could be expected to occur over a period of about 10 years,” study leader Dr. Brian Buijsse, a nutritional epidemiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition, said in a news release from the European Heart Journal, which published the findings online Tuesday.
“If the 39 percent lower risk is generalized to the general population, the number of avoidable heart attacks and strokes could be higher because the absolute risk in the general population is higher,” he said.
Six grams of chocolate is equivalent to about one small square of a 100 gram (3.5 ounce) bar, the researchers said.
But Buijsse cautioned that eating chocolate shouldn’t increase a person’s overall intake of calories or reduce the consumption of healthy foods.
“Small amounts of chocolate may help to prevent heart disease, but only if it replaces other energy-dense foods, such as snacks, in order to keep body weight stable,” he said.

According to a report by HealthDay News, “To put that in terms of absolute risk, if people in the group eating the least amount of chocolate [of whom 219 per 10,000 had a heart attack or stroke] increased their chocolate intake by 6 grams [0.2 ounces] a day, 85 fewer heart attacks and strokes per 10,000 people could be expected to occur over a period of about 10 years,” study leader Dr. Brian Buijsse, a nutritional epidemiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition.

“If the 39 percent lower risk is generalized to the general population, the number of avoidable heart attacks and strokes could be higher because the absolute risk in the general population is higher,” he said.

Six grams of chocolate is equivalent to about one small square of a 100 gram (3.5 ounce) bar, the researchers said.

But Buijsse cautioned that eating chocolate shouldn’t increase a person’s overall intake of calories or reduce the consumption of healthy foods.

“Small amounts of chocolate may help to prevent heart disease, but only if it replaces other energy-dense foods, such as snacks, in order to keep body weight stable,” he said.

But, for this Easter weekend, my prescription is a little bit of dark chocolate. Consider it doing your heart a bit of good — in more ways than one.

Have a blessed Easter everyone.

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