Monday, November 9, 2009

Chocolate after a heart attack

Chocolate is a much studied food. Now there is yet another research paper suggesting that it is never too late for chocolate. It has been long known that the cocoa in chocolate has antioxidants that seem to promote healthy arteries, lower blood pressure, reduce blood clots (eg deep vein thrombosis) and stop LDL-cholesterol from being oxidized into a dangerous form. All good news if you are otherwise healthy and eat only sensible amounts of choc.

But what if you have already had a heart attack and been lucky enough to survive it? A study of 1169 people who had a heart attack in the 1990s found that chocolate eaters had a 27% reduced chance of another attack when compared to those never eating chocolate. Although an occasional nibble conferred some protection, those that ate chocolate at least twice a week had the best outcome. The patients were not asked if the chocolate was milk or dark.

This was an observational study and we must be careful not to conclude that chocolate was the answer. On the other hand, sometimes it is nice to jump to conclusions on certain food experiences.

Reference: Journal of Internal Medicine 2009; 266: 248-257

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