Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.See all posts »
Saving Lives, One Chocolate at a Time
“Chocolate” and “cost effective” are not two words you expect to see in the same sentence, but Australian researchers were serious as a heart attack when they published a recent report touting the health benefits of chocolate.
In recent years, there has been a veritable gift box of studies regarding chocolate’s effects on heart health. (Click here to read my report on some of the latest research.) The dark stuff (although not milk chocolate) is chock full of important antioxidants which may help to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk for blood clots, and even cut the likelihood of heart attacks, strokes, and congestive heart failure when enjoyed in moderation.
In the study published by Dr. Ella Zomer and associates in the British Medical Journal, a statistical model was used to assess the potential benefits and costs of a daily dark chocolate treat, including the cost savings of avoiding medical treatment. (The researchers chose a theoretical 100 gram, or 3 ounce, serving, although some studies would suggest that is a little too much.) They specifically focused on individuals with the metabolic syndrome, a constellation of risk factors (including obesity, high blood glucose, abnormal blood lipids, and hypertension) that raises heart disease and stroke risk.
Dr. Zomer’s group found that for a cost of merely $42 per person per year, over the course of ten years 85 cardiac events could be prevented for every 10,000 people with the metabolic syndrome, making dark chocolate (with a cacao content of at least 60 to 70 percent) very cost effective indeed.
Chocolate’s scientific name is Theobroma cacao, which loosely translates to “fruit of the gods.” It’s sinfully delicious, yet it could save your life. What could be better than that?