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Trick-or-Treat for Chocolate

Chocolate Linked to Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Trick-or-treating on October 31st? Though we usually advise to pass on the candy and opt for fruit instead, we may have reason to reach for the chocolate this Halloween. A large 2015 study out of the UK has linked higher chocolate intake with a lower risk of future cardiovascular events.

Using about 12 years of data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer study in the UK, researchers analyzed questionnaires from more than 20,000 men and women to gather information on health and lifestyle. They specifically looked at chocolate consumption and heart health, finding a strong link between the two. Among the people who ate the most chocolate (0.5 to 3.5 ounces per day), only 9.7% developed coronary heart disease, while 13.8% of those non-chocolate eaters suffered from the condition. For stroke, those rates were 3.1% and 5.4% for the most and non-chocolate group, respectively. After reviewing previous studies that also examined this relationship, researchers uncovered five additional studies linking chocolate to a 29% reduction in CHD risk and five studies finding a 21% risk reduction for stroke.

But is chocolate really a treat without a trick? This study found the greatest potential heart benefit from eating up to 3.5 ounces of chocolate a day, but that doesn’t come calorie-free. Hitting the upper amount of that range could tack on an extra 500 calories and 18 grams of saturated fat each day, which could equate to a weight gain of one pound per week! Though this study did not differentiate between types of chocolate eaten, we suggest always choosing dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa, which is high in flavonoids and may help reduce inflammation and anxiety, and keeping serving sizes to about half an ounce per day.

For a healthier Halloween, enjoy a little dark chocolate and the sweet taste of fresh fruit. Our Pineapple Jack-o-Lantern and Bountiful Fruit Salad with Orange-Mint Dressing and is festive way to naturally sweeten and decorate your Halloween table display.

Published October 1, 2015

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