Chocolate as good as exercise, says a new study, which concludes that people who eat chocolate have reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.
But the benefit may be due to something else chocolate eaters do, British researchers say.
Dr. Oscar Franco and colleagues at the University of Cambridge conducted a review of seven studies involving more than 100,000 participants who did, and did not, have heart disease. For each study, they compared the group with the highest chocolate consumption against the group with the lowest consumption.
The review found the highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease, and a 29 percent reduction in stroke compared with lowest levels. No significant reduction was found in relation to heart failure.
Many studies have shown the heart benefits of eating dark chocolate, but the studies that were part of the review did not differentiate between dark or milk chocolate and included consumption of chocolate bars, drinks, biscuits and desserts, Franco says.
Franco and colleagues say further studies are needed to test whether chocolate actually causes this reduction in heart risk, or if it can be explained by some other unmeasured confounding factor.
The findings need to be interpreted with caution, in particular because commercially available chocolate is very high in calories and eating too much of it could lead to weight gain and an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, Franco says.
A Chicago company recently announced it had created the world's largest chocolate bar at 12,000 pounds.
The company, World's Finest Chocolate, said the 6-ton bar measures nearly 3 feet high and 21 feet long. The bar is to be unveiled before a World Guinness Record judge before beginning a cross country tour of schools.
The tour is part of the company's "Think Big, Eat Smart" campaign, bringing to life the concept of "portion distortion," the company said.
The company said the bar will provide 209,000 1-ounce servings -- enough servings for every fan in Chicago's Wrigley Field, U.S. Cellular Field, Soldier Field and United Center with 45,000 leftovers.