Ladies, you can now occasionally gorge on chocolate without a sense of guilt, for a study says that eating small amounts of the sweet snack can help protect women from heart failure. However consuming chocolate every day can eliminate its positive benefits, says the study. Lead researcher Dr Murray Mittleman of Harvard Medical School said: "You can't ignore that chocolate is a relatively calorie-dense food and large amounts of habitual consumption is going to raise your risks for weight gain. "But if you're going to have a treat, dark chocolate is probably a good choice, as long as it's in moderation." In fact in the nine-year study, conducted among 31,823 Swedish women, researchers looked at the relationship between the amount of high-quality dark chocolate eaten and the risk of heart failure. The researchers found that women who ate an average of one to two servings of the high-quality chocolate per week had a 32 per cent lower risk of developing heart failure, British newspaper 'The Daily Telegraph' reported. Those who had one to three servings per month had a 26 per cent lower risk, but those who ate at least one serving daily or more didn't seem to benefit from a protective effect against heart failure.
Dr Mittleman said the lack of a protective effect among women eating chocolate every day was probably due to the additional calories gained from eating chocolate instead of more nutritious foods. High concentration of compounds called "flavonoids" in chocolate may lower blood pressure, among other benefits, according to mostly short-term studies. However, this is the first study to show long-term outcomes related specifically to heart failure, which can result from ongoing untreated high blood pressure, say the researchers. The findings have been published in the 'Circulation: Heart Failure' journal.