Not only does chocolate taste delicious and help release pleasure-causing endorphin molecules, new evidence suggests it could be good for your heart, too. A study published on Monday, June 15 in the medical journal Heart claims that regular chocolate eaters reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes in comparison to those who rarely or never eat chocolate.
For the study, researchers with the University of Aberdeen tracked about 20,000 U.K. adults for 12 years. And fortunately for chocolate lovers, it’s not the only study to find a link between consuming chocolate and heart health benefits.
“The group with the greatest benefit generally ate 16 to 100 grams per day,” head author Phyo Myint wrote. The average Hershey bar contains 43 grams of chocolate.
While chocolate fans might be ready to run and share the good news, top fitness programs and health experts urge caution about the new study. Although there’s no reason to doubt the new study, just a few weeks ago media outlets were burned by a fraudulent chocolate study that was simply too good to be true.
“The truth is we can all benefit from taming our sweet tooth with a nutritious version of chocolate, cacao, or a natural sweetener like stevia,” says Lindsey Catarino, MBA, Independent Team Beachbody Coach, Certified PIYO Trainer. “All of these studies about healthy chocolate really don’t hold up to the science of feeding your body for performance and health. I get my chocolate fix daily from a product that I love called Shakeology. When you find the right one, you won’t even miss chocolate.”
On March 29 earlier this year, researcher Johannes Bohannon sent out a press release touting the incredible weight loss benefits of chocolate. After media outlets the world over repeated his claims, Bohannon revealed in May that the entire episode was a hoax. Bohannon said he was angry about shoddy reporting of medical studies and wanted to expose a gullible media.
“Which is to say: It was terrible science. The results are meaningless,” revealed the mad scientist.
Of course, that doesn’t mean every new health study should be disregarded. As in fitness and dieting, it’s all about careful moderation.
JoAnn Manson is a division chief at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and she says that while “Chocolate can be part of a healthy diet,” her new research calls into question its heart benefits.