12 March 2012
It’s seems almost too good to be true: women can reduce the threat of a disease that’s responsible for 7 per cent of deaths in females by eating more chocolate – but there’s a catch.
The chocolate has to be very dark, and packed full of flavonoids, antioxidants that protect against heart disease in women with type II diabetes.
The flavonoid-rich chocolate reduces the risk of a fatal heart attack by around 4 per cent – and that’s a significant effect for a simple dietary change. It’s also important because post-menopausal women with type II diabetes are nearly four times more likely to have a fatal heart attack than women without the disease.
Flavonoids are also found in red wine, vegetables and fruits such as berries – but researchers from the University of East Anglia decided to restrict the test to chocolate. They commissioned a chocolatier to make a special dark chocolate, rich in flavan-3-ols, found in cocoa and tea, and isoflavones, which are in soy products. They gave a small bar of the chocolate to half of the group of 93 post-menopausal women with diabetes, and the rest were given normal chocolate. Those who ate the dark chocolate reduced their risk of a fatal heart attack over the following 10 years by 3.4 per cent, say the researchers.
(Source: Diabetes Care, 2012; doi: 10.2337/dc11-1443).