Regular chocolate consumption linked to slightly lower risk of death in women

In a recent study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dieteticsresearchers are examining the relationship between chocolate consumption and all-cause and specific mortality in women.

Study: Chocolate consumption in relation to all-cause and cause-specific mortality in women: The Women’s Health Initiative. Image Credit: Dean Drobot/

The effects of chocolate on health

The short-term and long-term health effects of chocolate consumption have received much attention in recent years. However, studies investigating the link between chocolate consumption and cardiovascular disease (CVD) have yielded conflicting results.

To that end, a recent study found no association between chocolate consumption and coronary heart disease (CHD) or stroke, despite previous studies suggesting a potential inverse relationship. To date, researchers have not explored the link between chocolate consumption and mortality risk from specific causes.

About the study

The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) is a national health study that aims to prevent heart disease, colorectal and breast cancer, and osteoporotic fractures in postmenopausal women through long-term strategies. Between 1993 and 1998, researchers recruited postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79 at 40 clinical centers in the United States for a clinical trial (CT) or observational study (OS).

The WHI assessed diet at the start of the study using a self-administered validated food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) derived from the Health Habits and Lifestyle Questionnaire. The WHI FFQ consisted of three parts, including 122 foods that asked questions about portion size and frequency of consumption, 19 questions about fat intake, and four summary questions about usual consumption of vegetables, fruits, and vegetables. added fats to compare with a specific food. data.

The WHI FFQ analyzed a nutrient database from the Nutrition Data System for Research. This database includes over 140 nutrients and compounds, such as energy, sodium and saturated fat.

Baseline data from the WHI FFQ was used to assess chocolate consumption. The FFQ inquired about the frequency of consumption of one ounce of chocolate candy and chocolate bars over the past three months.

Five categories of chocolate consumption frequency based on participants’ responses were established. These included no intake, less than one serving per week, one to three servings per week, four to six servings per week, and one serving per day.

Study results

Over a period of 1,608,856 person-years, 25,388 deaths were recorded, including 7,069 deaths from cardiovascular diseases, 7,030 deaths from cancer and 3,279 deaths from dementia. Women who consumed more chocolate tended to have unhealthy habits such as smoking, higher energy intake, less physical activity, lower quality diets, and drinking more coffee or tea.

A correlation was found between higher chocolate consumption in women and a lower likelihood of diabetes and high cholesterol at the start of the study. However, these women were more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI).

Study participants who consumed chocolate had a lower risk of all-cause mortality compared to those who did not consume chocolate. The risk was even lower for those who consumed chocolate more frequently, with the lowest risk seen in those who consumed one serving per day. These results were adjusted for various factors such as age, socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, diet and lifestyle factors, disease history, BMI and disease history.

Chocolate consumption had a small impact on CVD mortality, with those consuming less than one serving per week having a slightly lower risk of CVD, while those consuming one to three servings per week had the highest risk. weaker. Women who ate one serving a day had a similar risk to those who ate no chocolate at all. Chocolate consumption showed similar associations with coronary and cardiovascular mortality; however, no association with stroke mortality was found.

People who ate chocolate had a lower risk of lung cancer death than those who did not, with the lowest risk seen in those who ate four to six servings a week. Chocolate consumption was also associated with a reduced risk of mortality from dementia, excluding Alzheimer’s disease.


Chocolate consumption appears to be associated with a slightly lower mortality risk. Specifically, moderate chocolate consumption of three servings per week was particularly beneficial, even after controlling for various confounding factors. Moderate chocolate consumption was also correlated with a small reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease and dementia.

Further research is needed to investigate the potential link between high chocolate consumption and all-cause and cause-specific death.

Journal reference:

  • Sun, Y., Liu, B., Snetselaar, LG, et al. (2023). Chocolate consumption in relation to all-cause and cause-specific mortality in women: The Women’s Health Initiative. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 123(6); 902-911. doi:10.1016/j.jan.2022.12.007

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