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13-06-2012 | Cardiology | Article

Dark chocolate cuts CV risk in the metabolic syndrome

Abstract

Free abstract

MedWire News: Eating dark chocolate on a daily basis appears to decrease risk for cardiovascular (CV) events in patients with the metabolic syndrome, say researchers.

Consuming dark chocolate every day could potentially prevent 85 CV events for every 10,000 cases of the syndrome over a 10-year period, report Christopher Reid (Monash University, Melbourne, Australia) and colleagues.

Dark chocolate is rich in polyphenols, specifically flavonoids, which exhibit antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, and metabolic effects, all of which may contribute to their protective effect, explain the researchers.

In a best-case scenario analysis, the team used prediction algorithms to assess the health effects and cost-effectiveness of daily dark chocolate consumption on CV risk among 2013 participants from the Australian Diabetes Obesity and Lifestyle study.

"To our knowledge this is the first study to model the long-term effects of dark chocolate consumption in reducing cardiovascular risk," say Reid et al.

All of the participants had the metabolic syndrome and hypertension but were not receiving antihypertensive therapy and were initially free of CV disease and diabetes.

The researchers report that, with 100% compliance (best-case scenario), consuming 100 g of dark chocolate each day could potentially prevent 70 nonfatal and 15 fatal CV events per 10,000 individuals treated over a 10-year period.

Even when compliance was reduced to 80%, the figures still suggested that the strategy would be effective, with 55 nonfatal and 10 fatal events averted per 10,000 individuals treated.

Further analysis showed that AUS$ 40 (€ 31; US$ 42) could be economically spent per person per year on a dark chocolate prevention strategy. "This could be devoted to advertising, educational campaigns, or potentially subsidisation of dark chocolate in this high risk population," writes the team in the BMJ.

The researchers say the blood pressure- and total cholesterol-lowering effects of dark chocolate consumption provide a nondrug treatment option, either alone or in combination with therapeutic interventions, for people with the metabolic syndrome.

By Sally Robertson

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