People who eat some cheese, yogurt, or chocolate every day have a lower risk of heart disease, study finds
- Having a small amount of cheese and chocolate daily could protect your heart, a study suggests.
- Researchers found other fermented dairy products like yogurt were also associated with benefits.
- The study found mostly plant-based diets have the most
healthbenefits, with cheese and chocolate in moderation.
Research suggests a mostly plant-based diet can improve your heart health. However, you don't need to go totally vegan - evidence suggests foods like cheese, chocolate, and yogurt have benefits, too.
Eating some full-fat dairy in moderation can help protect your heart, according to a study published July 6 in Cardiovascular Research.
Researchers from the University of Naples reviewed nearly 100 studies on the relationship between heart disease risk and dietary habits. They focused on specific categories of food, such as red meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, produce, nuts, and grains.
Their findings suggest that regularly eating yogurt and small amounts of cheese could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, possibly because of the fermentation process involved in those foods. Small amounts of chocolate were also linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Dairy can be good for the heart, even the full-fat varieties
The researchers found eating up to 200 grams of dairy products per day wasn't linked to increased risk of heart disease, although there's limited data on high consumption.
Contrary to old theories that high saturated fat content is risky for heart health, the current study found certain types of dairy seemed to have a protective effect.
For instance, people who consumed at least one 200 gram serving, or three-quarters of a cup of yogurt, per day had a lower risk of heart disease than people who didn't eat yogurt.
Cheese was also found to be beneficial in moderate amounts, up to 50 grams (about two and a half slices or a third of a cup of shredded cheese) per day.
A bit of chocolate each day could protect your heart
The study also found a small but significant association between regularly eating chocolate and a slightly lower risk of heart disease.
Eating between 20 gram to 45 grams of chocolate a day, between one half to a whole 1.5 ounce chocolate bar was found to have the most benefits. Eating more wasn't linked to better
However, researchers recommend 10 grams of chocolate a day, to avoid consuming too much added sugar or excess calories that can offset the benefits for heart health.
Evidence points to specific compounds in cocoa called flavanols that are linked to the heart health benefits of chocolate.
While the most recent study didn't differentiate between types of chocolate, previous studies suggest dark chocolate may be the best option for heart health, since it's richer in flavanols, antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients. Milk chocolate, in contrast, tends to be higher in added sugar and processed fats, too much of which can be bad for your health.
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