Scientists from The University of Tennessee Health Science Center and elsewhere found that eating chocolate is linked to lower death risk in women.
Chocolate contains both harmful components (ie, stearic acid and added sugar) and beneficial components (ie, phenolics and flavonoids).
Phenolics are the largest group of phytochemicals that account for most of the antioxidant activity in plants or plant products.
Despite its popularity, the long-term health effects of eating chocolate remain unclear.
Previous research has found the antioxidants in dark chocolate have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of clotting and increase blood circulation to the heart, thus lowering the risks of stroke, coronary heart disease, and death from heart disease.
In the current study, researchers aimed to examine the link between chocolate consumption with death risk.
The team used data from 84,709 older women free of heart disease and cancer at the beginning of the study.
The data were from the prospective Women’s Health Initiative cohort and the women were enrolled from 1993 through 1998. These women were followed through in March 2018.
The researchers examined all-cause death and cause-specific death from heart disease, cancer, and dementia.
The team found during the follow-up period, 25,388 deaths occurred, including 7,069 deaths from heart disease, 7,030 deaths from cancer, and 3,279 deaths from dementia.
Chocolate intake was linked to lower death risk from all-cause, including heart disease death, and dementia death.
Chocolate consumption was not associated with cancer death.
Based on the findings, the team suggests chocolate intake was linked with lower death risks from all causes, heart disease, or dementia, specifically for moderate chocolate intake of 1 to 3 servings/week.
The research was published in The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and conducted by Yangbo Sun et al.
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