Meta-Analysis Finds Higher Chocolate Intake Linked With Lower Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease
Embargoed until 9:10 a.m., UK time, 29 Aug. 2011: Cocoa and chocolate have many properties that could enhance cardiometabolic health--a group of conditions that includes cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and the metabolic syndrome. The authors of this study conducted a meta-analysis of seven studies to see what effect chocolate/cocoa consumption had on cardiometabolic health. The seven studies included one cross-sectional study and six observational studies. Because levels of chocolate/cocoa consumption varied greatly among the studies (some assessed frequency of consumption while other measured grams consumed), researchers compared highest levels of chocolate consumption in each study to the lowest levels of consumption. Five studies found higher chocolate consumption was associated with lower risk of cardiometabolic disorders. Compared to people with the lowest consumption, those with the highest consumption of chocolate had a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29% reduction in the risk of stroke. One study also found that higher chocolate consumption was associated with 31% reduction in the risk of diabetes. Because this meta-analysis was based on observational studies, it can only address association not causation. Some unmeasured variable may have affected the link between chocolate consumption and the risk of cardiometabolic disorders. Randomized controlled studies are needed to see if chocolate consumption is the cause of the reduced cardiometabolic risk.