According to a recently published study in the journal Heart, people who eat chocolates regularly are found to have a lower risk of strokes and cardiovascular diseases compared to individuals who don’t eat chocolate.

What makes chocolate such a good friend of our heart? The third and the most important ingredient of chocolates besides milk and sugar is cocoa bean. Scientists are saying that certain compounds present in the cocoa bean are responsible for making chocolate so beneficial for our heart.

This new study is one among the series of studies conducted to collect evidence to prove that polyphenols, which are bioactive plant compounds present in cocoa beans, might help in preventing heart diseases.

Dariush Mozaffarian, the dean of Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy, said that findings of the new study are indicating that polyphenols can make our blood vessels healthier.

During the study, around 20,000 adults were tracked by the research team over a period of 12 years. Each of the participants was made to fill out food-frequency questionnaires. These surveys helped the researchers to gauge the chocolate-eating habit of the participants.

According to numbers put up by Harvard Health Blog’s Howard LeWine, 12% of the individuals who consumed chocolates in maximum quantity died of or developed cardiovascular disease during the course of the study, whereas as much as 17.4% of people who didn’t eat chocolate were found to have similar fate.

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University of Aberdeen’s Phyo Myint, who happens to be the study author, said that this reduction in chances of having cardiovascular disease is truly surprising. To analyze benefits offered by chocolates, researchers divided chocolate eaters into groups based on the quantity of chocolate they consume. It was found that people who experienced maximum benefit ate 16-100 grams of chocolate every day.

Here, it must be noted that this study, like many of its kind, doesn’t prove that there’s a cause and effect relationship between reduced risk of stroke or heart disease and chocolate eating. Scientists are thus planning to begin a large-scale clinical trial of the polyphenols found in cocoa beans. According to latest reports, the bioactive plant compounds will be tested in the form of capsules. Unlike candy bars, those capsules will not contain any fat, sugar or calories.