Dark Chocolate Reduces Risk for Cardiac Fatalities

Daily dark chocolate consumption could be an effective and cost-effective strategy for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in people with the metabolic syndrome, suggest results of a study published in the BMJ.

The Australian researchers say that daily consumption of dark chocolate could reduce cardiovascular events by 85 per 10,000 people treated over a 10-year period.

The findings arise from a study involving over 2,000 individuals with hypertension who met the criteria for the metabolic syndrome and who had no history of cardiovascular disease.

The investigators constructed a Markov model to assess the health effects and associated costs of daily consumption of plain dark chocolate compared with no chocolate in this population.

With 100% compliance (best case scenario), daily dark chocolate consumption could potentially prevent 70 non-fatal and 15 fatal cardiovascular events per 10,000 people treated over 10 years, say Christopher Reid, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, and team.

Even when compliance levels were reduced to 90% the number of potentially preventable non-fatal and fatal events was reduced to 60 and 10, respectively, per 10,000 people treated, they report. When compliance levels were further reduced to 80%, the equivalent figures were 55 and 10.

The model also suggested that US$42 (£20; €31; $A40) could be cost-effectively spent per person per year on dark chocolate prevention strategies and could be used for advertising, educational campaigns, or subsidizing dark chocolate in this high-risk population.

The authors note that these protective effects have only been shown for dark chocolate (at least 60–70% cocoa), rather than for milk or white chocolate, probably due to the higher levels of flavonoids found in dark chocolate.

Nevertheless, Reid et al. conclude that the blood pressure and cholesterol lowering effects of plain dark chocolate “could represent an effective and cost effective strategy for people with [the] metabolic syndrome.”

By Nikki Withers