Dark chocolate may be an inexpensive way to help prevent cardiovascular disease in patients at risk for heart disease, researchers found.
A modeling study predicts that patients with metabolic syndrome who eat dark chocolate every day could have 85 fewer events per 10,000 population over 10 years.
For only a few dollars per year, treatment with dark chocolate falls into an acceptable category of cost-effectiveness. This could save $50,000 per year that your life is extended.
“Chocolate benefits from being by and large a pleasant, and hence sustainable, treatment option,” they wrote. “Evidence to date suggests that the chocolate would need to be dark and of at least 60% to 70% cocoa, or formulated to be enriched with polyphenols.”
Several recent studies have suggested that eating dark chocolate has blood-pressure and lipid-lowering effects. To assess whether it could be an effective and cost-effective treatment option in patients potentially at risk for cardiovascular disease, the researchers looked at data from patients in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity, and Lifestyle study.
The investigators also used risk-prediction algorithms and population life tables to determine the probability of patients developing or dying from heart disease or other noncardiovascular causes each year.
Data on the blood-pressure-lowering effects of dark chocolate were taken from a meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials, and lipid-lowering effects from a meta-analysis of eight short-term trials.
Costs were taken from a review of the costs of cardiovascular complications in a healthy population, and included the direct costs of heart attack and stroke.
They calculated the number of deaths prevented by determining the difference in the number of deaths between those consuming and not consuming dark chocolate.
With 100% compliance, which isn’t hard if all you have to do is eat chocolate, treatment would prevent 70 non-fatal and 15 fatal cardiovascular events per 10,000 population over that time.
When compliance was reduced to 90%, the number of preventable non-fatal and fatal events fell to 60 and 10, respectively, and at a compliance of 80%, was reduced to 55 and 10, respectively. Even at these levels, however, daily dark chocolate was still considered an effective and cost-effective intervention strategy, they wrote.
So go out and grab that bar of dark chocolate and enjoy adding years to your life. My advice though is to find the darkest you can tolerate. 60% or 70% chocolate still has a lot of sugar and other calorie packed ingredients. try an 85% or 90%. I personally have a few squares of Lindt 99% dark chocolate each evening (image to the right). It is hard to find in the US but readily available in Europe and mail order from Lindt.com. The Lindt 90% can easily be found here though.
Finally something that tastes so good is actually good for you too!