Scientists from The Second Xiangya Hospital of Central South University and elsewhere found that eating chocolate in a balanced diet is linked to lower death risk.
Chocolate is a rich dietary source of bioactive flavonoids. Despite being one of the most popular foods worldwide, the link between chocolate intake and long-term death remains unclear.
In the current study, researchers aimed to determine the associations between chocolate intake and long-term death risk.
They used data from the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene cancer prevention (ATBC) Study with a total of 27,111 men who were recruited between 1985 and 1988 and followed through 2015.
During the 30 years of follow-up, the team found a strong link between chocolate intake and the risk of overall death.
They also found much lower death risks from heart disease and cancer, representing 16% and 12% risk reductions for the highest compared to the lowest chocolate category.
The associations of chocolate intake with the risk of overall and heart disease deaths were generally consistent across different participant groups.
The team also found that 4.3% of the association between chocolate and overall death risk was mediated through reducing blood pressure.
The researchers then did a review and meta-analysis of published studies and found greater intake of chocolate (per 5 g/day) was linked to a lower risk of heart disease incidence and death.
Based on the findings, they conclude that a calorie-balanced greater intake of chocolate is linked to lower overall, heart disease and cancer death risks.
These findings may provide evidence to support the health benefits of eating chocolate on a balanced diet.
The research was published in The European Journal of Epidemiology and conducted by Bin Zhao et al.
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