How chocolate can extend your life

  • 21/03/2016
Michelle Dickinson (Paul Henry)
Michelle Dickinson (Paul Henry)

With Easter Weekend on the horizon, chocolate consumption will go through the roof.

Scientist Michelle Dickinson joined Paul Henry to talk about the pros and cons of chocolate.

Pros:

One study with more than 44,000 participants found that those who ate a weekly serving of chocolate were 22 percent less likely to suffer a stroke than those who ate no chocolate.

A 2008 study found that people who ate a small amount of dark chocolate a day (about 6.7 grams) had lower levels of a protein associated with inflammation in their blood.

Other recent studies have found that blood platelets clump together more slowly in chocolate eaters. Clumping platelets can lead to the formation of blood clots, which in turn can cause a heart attack.

Chocolate consumption may lower blood pressure, help prevent formation of artery plaques and improve blood flow.

Eating chocolate may even help with math, or at least counting. A study reported in 2009 showed that people did a better job of counting backwards in groups of three after they had consumed a hot cocoa drink containing large amounts of a compound found in chocolate. These compounds, called flavonoids, may increase blood flow to the brain.

Chocolate may also have anti-cancer benefits because flavonoids may help reduce the cell damage that can spur tumor growth.   

Cons:

Because we usually consume chocolate (& cacao) as a sweet, it has a lot of sugar added. That means it’s high in calories, which can lead to weight gain, and other sugar-related downsides like heart disease and diabetes.

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