gua: 'Tiny' bit of chocolate is good for your heart


Published: Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 3:32 p.m.

Atlanta

Chocolate lovers, this is just what you need to justify snacking on one of those Cadbury eggs at Easter time.

A study in the European Heart Journal says people who eat small amounts of chocolate had lower blood pressure. And they were at a 39 percent lower risk of heart attacks and strokes, according to the study, published in the March edition.

The key word is "small," the Journal reports. Though some may argue that "tiny" is perhaps a more accurate description.

Here's the skinny: The study reviewed the chocolate-eating habits and blood pressure results of more than 19,000 middle-aged men and women over an eight-year period. The average amount eaten was about one square of chocolate a day - or half of a small chocolate Easter egg in one week - the study says.

"So, the benefits were associated with a fairly small amount of chocolate," Victoria Taylor, a senior heart health dietician, told BBC News.

"This sounds like a dream for chocolate lovers and just in time for Easter, too, but it's important to read the small print with this study," said Taylor, who works at the British Heart Foundation.

Tempted to eat more? That's probably what most people would do, Taylor said.

But she warned that the sweet treat comes with its share of calories and saturated fat, which can contribute to heart disease over time.

Kristi E. Swartz writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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