Older chocolate-eaters may have healthier hearts

January 1, 2011

Researchers from Australia have found that women older than 70 years who report eating chocolate at least once per week are 35% less likely to be hospitalized or die from heart disease over a 10-year period and are nearly 60% less likely to be hospitalized or die from heart failure.

Researchers from Australia have found that women older than 70 years who report eating chocolate (equivalent in amount to about 1 cup of hot cocoa) at least once per week are 35% less likely to be hospitalized or die from heart disease over a 10-year period and are nearly 60% less likely to be hospitalized or die from heart failure.

The authors reviewed data collected from 1,216 older women who estimated how often they ate chocolate and how much. The researchers then followed them for almost a decade, keeping track of hospitalizations and deaths from heart disease.

About half the women said they consumed less than 1 serving of chocolate per week and about 90 of those were hospitalized or died from heart disease during the study period, compared with 65 of those women who ate chocolate more frequently.

Although the researchers grouped together the women who ate chocolate daily and those who ate it at least weekly, the authors also looked at each group separately and discovered that both fared similarly, suggesting that 1 serving per week suffices.

The benefits are thought to be due to the flavonoids contained in chocolate.

Lewis JR, Prince RL, Zhu K, et al. Habitual chocolate intake and vascular disease: a prospective study of clinical outcomes in older women. Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(21):1857–1858.