Sweet news this holiday season: According to Harvard researchers, a few pieces of chocolate every month may make your life both sweeter and longer. The researchers, Dr. I-Min Lee, and Dr. Ralph S. Paffenbarger Jr., of the Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston, Massachusetts, studied the candy-consuming habits of more than 7,800 men participating in the Harvard alumni health study.
The men, who enrolled at the university between 1916 and 1959, filled out a health questionnaire in 1988 that asked how often they ate the sweet stuff. The survey also asked whether and how often they exercised, ate vegetables, drank alcohol, smoked, and did other things known to affect health and longevity. At the time of the survey, all of the men were free of heart disease and cancer, and their average age was 65 years. Over the next six years, 7.5% of the men who said they "almost never" ate candy died, compared with 5.9% of those who reported eating sweets.
After taking into account the men's ages, weights, smoking status and the like, the researchers calculated that candy-eating added nearly a year to the men's lives, up to age 95. Unfortunately, greater consumption of candy was not associated with progressively lower mortality. The researchers admit in a statement that they "are partial to a chocolate bar a day."
"Mortality was lowest among those consuming candy 1-3 times a month and highest among those indulging this habit 3 or more times a week. Non-consumers of candy, however, still had the highest mortality overall. As with most things in life, moderation seems to be paramount," the researchers write.
British Medical Journal December 19, 1998; 317:9-10.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
If you are healthy, which is certainly a minority of the patients I see, small amounts of sugar are not likely to be a problem. However, if you have a chronic health problem, the most important physical thing you can do for your health is to stop all sugar.
Several items should be noted, I suspect that the frequency of once every TWO WEEKS would be a wise rule to follow. It should also be noted that, like most people, the authors were hooked on candy and this could have biased their research. The best sugar to eat would be RAW honey, rather than regular sugar.
This probably has some health benefits if one is not already sick.