Does Eating Chocolate Reduce Your Risk of Death?

Thanks to a growing number of studies, the debate over the health benefits of eating chocolate -- specifically the minimally processed dark kind -- is over, for the most part. There's still room for surprise, however, as evidenced by this new study of elderly men that found those who ate a third of a chocolate bar daily had a reduced chance of dying as well lower blood pressure.

Researchers studied the eating habits of more than 450 healthy, elderly men (older than age 64) who didn't take medications to regulate their blood pressure. Patients who consumed the most products derived from cocoa beans every day -- anything from cocoa to pudding -- cut their risk of death in half as well as lowered blood pressures.

Interestingly, male patients who ate the most cocoa-derived products were no heavier and ate no more food than those who consumed less cocoa, according to the study.

Researchers were cautious about any sort of blanket recommendation of chocolate, however, noting these men probably shared other qualities that made them healthy, and I suspect that's true. Additionally, a lot of people may use these results to justify poor health choices like consuming harmful processed chocolate products chock full of lead.

If you're concerned about eating chocolate, I urge you to review some simple guidelines I posted last year to help you make the best choice for your health.

By the way, if you've been looking for a healthy chocolate bar and haven't found one, you may want to try the Dagoba Eclipse Chocolate Bars sold in my Web store.

Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 166, No. 4, February 27, 2006: 411-417

USA Today February 28, 2006

New Scientist February 27, 2006

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