But are these studies really saying that the sugary, often high fat treat can really be enjoyed on a daily basis and will actually improve our health - or are journalists (and us) cherry-picking pleasing headlines?
A study published in ‘Heart’ journal looked at the snacking habits of 21,000 people over 12 years. They found that people who ate up to 100g of chocolate every day had a 25% lower risk of dying from heart disease. The chance of suffering a stroke also fell by 23 per cent. All good news right? The professor in charge of the study thinks so "Cumulative evidence suggests that higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future cardiovascular events.” It’s also the first study to show that it’s not just dark chocolate that may have protective effects, as the study took into account all types of chocolate. Professor Phyo Myint says ‘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.’
While this was a large study published in a respectable journal, caution should always be taken when it comes to these population type studies as it’s often not clear what other factors could be playing a role in the findings - and food intake in particular is often under reported. So the message is to keep enjoying chocolate from time to time as a treat but don’t start seeing it as a health food!
Written by Ruth Tongue
Kwok, CS et al. Habitual chocolate consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease among healthy men and women. Heart, 15 June 2015 DOI:10.1136/heartjnl-2014-307050