People who eat chocolate 3 times a month live almost a year longer than those who eat less of it.
Hoax or Fact:
Fact with some misinformation.
The message claims that people who eat Chocolate 3 times a month will live almost a year longer than the people who eat less of it. Yes, it is a fact, it was the outcome of a study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health in 1988, but we cannot estimate the life of a person precisely and so is the effect of consuming chocolate.
Study on Chocolate Consumption
The Harvard School of Public Health conducted a five-year study on consumption of chocolate among 7841 men, aged about 65, who were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer. It was observed that Mortality was lowest among people who were consuming chocolate candy 3 times a month and was highest among those indulging in this habit for three or more times a week. The non-consumers of candy had the highest mortality rate overall. The study, after adjustment for age and cigarette smoking estimated that candy consumers enjoyed, on average, 0.92 (0.04 to 1.80) added years of life, up to the age 95, when compared with non-consumers.
The study stated that the presence of antioxidant phenols in chocolate is possibly the reason behind this increased lifespan of people who consumed it in moderate levels. It also said that these beneficial effects of chocolate may decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer. However, the study also highlighted the importance of moderate chocolate consumption.
Apart from this study, we cannot really estimate the lifespan of a person exactly and judge the effect of chocolate consumption. Nevertheless, like the study suggested, eating chocolate in moderation certainly has health benefits.
Health Benefits of Chocolate
Mentioned below are few known health benefits of eating chocolate in moderation:
1. May Reduce the Risk of Heart Attack
As suggested by the study, moderate consumption of chocolate may reduce the risk of heart attack. Scientific research found that blood platelets clotted more slowly in people who consume chocolate than in those who did not. It is this clotting of blood vessels that blocks them and then leads to a heart attack. Several studies suggested that cocoa and chocolate may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Decreasing LDL oxidation
- Anti-inflammation action
2. May Decrease Blood Pressure and Increase Insulin Sensitivity
A research in Italy suggested that consumption of dark chocolate significantly lowered the insulin resistance, and also reduced the Systolic blood pressure, the first number in a blood pressure reading.
3. May Improve Arterial Blood Flow
Research found that healthy men who consumed the flavanol-rich cocoa improved the ability of their blood vessels to relax and improve the blood flow through their arteries. This is important for cardiovascular health.
4. May Help People with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
A small study in England suggested that consumption of 1 1/2 ounces of 85% cocoa dark chocolate every day for eight weeks reduced the fatigue feeling in people suffering with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. And surprisingly, no weight gain was reported in the study.
The researchers think that chocolate enhances the action of neurotransmitters, like serotonin, which in turn helps regulating the mood and sleep. More research is needed on this though.
Not All Chocolates are Good
While it is important to keep the consumption of chocolate moderate, it is also important to choose healthy ones, because chocolate is high in calories, and so eating too much of it can make you fat and increase the risk of heart disease, let alone other health effects.
According to WebMD, the more nonfat cocoa solids a chocolate has, the more antioxidants it is likely to have, and the highest levels of flavonoids (antioxidants) are in natural cocoa powder. Unsweetened baking chocolate, Dark chocolate and semisweet chocolate chips, milk chocolate and chocolate syrup contains lesser antioxidants in the same order.
So the bottom line is that eating a bar of healthy chocolate once in a while (like 3 times a month as suggested by the study) promotes good health, happiness and sleep, which in long term can improve the lifespan of a person.