Chocolates have long been viewed as a sweet indulgence that many people just could not ignore, but according to a new study, these delectable delights should actually be enjoyed more for your heart's sake.

A team of researchers in the United Kingdom have discovered that people who eat chocolates habitually were less likely to develop strokes and cardiovascular disease compared to others who did not eat chocolates.

The findings of the study, featured in the journal Heart, showed how bioactive plant compounds found in cocoa beans known as polyphenols can help reduce the risk of heart disease in people.

Dean Dariush Mozaffarian of Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy said that polyphenols appear to have the ability to improve the health of blood vessels.

The researchers examined data collected from over 20,000 adult people in the UK in span of 12 years. They measured the participants' consumption of chocolates through a series of food-frequency questionnaires that they were asked to fill out.

Out of the total number of participants, around 14 percent of them developed either stroke or heart disease throughout the duration of the study.

The researchers, however, observed that those who ate about 3.5 ounces of chocolates daily experienced a 14 percent reduction of heart disease risk and a 23 percent reduction of stroke risk.

They then combined their findings with nine other similar studies that investigated the link between chocolate consumption and heart disease and found that those who ate chocolates were 29 percent less susceptible to heart disease and 21 percent less likely to have a stroke.

The combined data also showed that chocolate eaters were 45 percent less likely to die from strokes, heart attacks or heart disease.

"People who want to eat chocolate should not be worried too much about their cardiovascular health," study author Dr. Phyo Myint of the University of Aberdeen said.

"We did not find any harmful effects of chocolate, if they want to enjoy chocolate now and again. The key is moderation."

Despite discovering a potential connection between heart health and chocolate consumption, the study was not able to establish a cause-and-effect.

Myint also noted that the results of their study involved only middle-aged and older people. They did not investigate the possible effects of chocolate consumption on the health of children and young adults.

Benefits of Eating Chocolates in Moderation

Aside from its benefits to heart health, eating chocolates in moderation can also improve other facets of people's overall health.

Chocolates Lower Bad Cholesterol Levels

A study featured in the Journal of Nutrition suggested that chocolate consumption can help reduce the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol, in the body.

The researchers found that eating chocolate bars with cocoa flavanols (CF) and plant sterols (PS) as part of a low-fat diet can help improve blood pressure and lower cholesterol.

Chocolates Can Help Prevent Memory Decline

Harvard Medical School scientists discovered that drinking two cups of hot chocolate daily can help keep the brain healthy and prevent the decline of memory especially among older people.

They said that the hot beverage can keep the blood flowing in working areas of the brain.

"As different areas of the brain need more energy to complete their tasks, they also need greater blood flow. This relationship, called neurovascular coupling, may play an important role in diseases such as Alzheimer's," Farzaneh A. Sorond, author of the Harvard study, explained.

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.