Good or bad? The best cardiologist gives his verdict on chocolate, coffee and wine | Health
Dark chocolate is a “joy” when it comes to keeping your heart healthy, coffee is probably protective, but wine is “neutral” at best, according to one of the world’s leading cardiologists.
As editor-in-chief of the European Heart Journal for more than a decade, Professor Thomas Lüscher led a team that sifted through 3,200 manuscripts from scientists and physicians each year. Only a fraction – those deemed “really new” and supported by “hard data” – would be selected for publication.
After stepping down as editor of the world’s leading journal for cardiovascular medicine, Lüscher delivered his verdict on one of the most frequently asked heart health research questions: Are wine, chocolate and coffee good or bad for you?
Writing in the European Heart Journal, Lüscher, consultant cardiologist and director of research, education and development at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals, says the answer is “more complex than a simple yes or no”.
Lüscher also cautions that the evidence must be taken “seriously”, given the large number of people around the world who regularly enjoy a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or a piece of chocolate. He suggests that there are pros and cons to each of them, and these may differ depending on how often and how much each is consumed, as well as by whom.
“Are wine, chocolate, coffee forbidden joys? Well, wine is truly a joy but neutral at best when consumed in moderation. Chocolate is a joy for our CV [cardiovascular] system, if consumed in a dark and bitter form. What about the coffee? It wakes us up, less if you drink it regularly, and at this dose of up to four cups a day, it might even be protective.
Speaking to the Guardian about his article, Lüscher, who has himself published extensively with over 500 research papers, over 200 reviews and book chapters on cardiovascular medicine, said despite the keen interest in the merits or not of coffee, wine and chocolate for health, there is much still unknown.
“The optimal dose of chocolate, ie dark and bitter chocolate, is not known because it has not been properly studied. The most beneficial ingredient in chocolate was the flavanols, he said, which can boost heart function and reduce inflammation. But he added: “It’s important that chocolate is low in sugar and fat, which is obviously unhealthy. In particular, white chocolate is not at all healthy.
Lüscher warned that while years ago chocolate was considered a “rare joy”, its easy availability today had contributed to an “obesity epidemic”. He added, “I myself am not a chocolate eater, but I get it from patients quite often. “
Lüscher drinks several espressos a day and while he likes “good red wine” very much, he has recently reduced his consumption and now mainly enjoys one or two glasses on weekends.
Professor Tim Chico, professor of cardiovascular medicine and honorary consultant cardiologist at the University of Sheffield, said he agreed with Lüscher “that the evidence suggests that coffee and chocolate are associated with a slightly lower risk of heart disease, unlike alcohol “.
Professor Paul Leeson, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Oxford, said: “When I see patients in a cardiology clinic, they often assume that wine, chocolate and coffee are going to be bad for them. There is obvious relief when you tell them it might not be. This article by a respected European senior cardiologist presents a very balanced and evidence-based assessment of the associations between these three elements of life and heart disease.
Tracy Parker, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: “To keep your heart healthy, what really matters is a healthy lifestyle rather than the amount of coffee, chocolate or alcohol you have. you consume. This means getting regular exercise, quitting smoking, and eating well.
“When it comes to our diet, it’s the balance of your entire diet that has the most impact. Try to eat more of the good things like fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and less of foods high in salt, sugar and saturated fat like cakes, cookies and vegetables. sweets.