A Nationwide Study of Chocolate Eaters in Korea Shows Protective Potential
Here’s a news item that should cheer everyone up: Eating chocolate can help prevent hearing loss. Researchers in Korea conducted a rigorous nationwide study of the chocolate consumption of 3,575 subjects—between 40 and 64 years old—and the results were startling: Hearing loss was significantly lower for those who regularly consumed chocolate:
The rate of any hearing loss in the subjects who consumed chocolate (26.78%) was significantly lower than that in those who did not (35.97%). The severity of hearing loss was inversely correlated with the frequency of it’s consumption. The more often you eat it, the better your odds of avoiding severe hearing loss.
The study used data from the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which records the health and nutritional status of Koreans. Respondents were given hearing threshold tests to determine the presence and degree of sensorineural hearing loss.
To control for other pathologies that may have contributed to hearing loss, the researchers performed physical examinations on each subject. Subjects also provided detailed information on their consumption of chocolate and other foods. Trained dietitians collected information on the frequency and quantity of food consumption from the previous year as well.
The research did not identify exactly how or why it prevents hearing loss. However, the size of the sample and rigor of their analysis gave them the confidence to come to a strong conclusion that should encourage chocolate eaters. Results suggest that chocolate plays an protective role against hearing loss.
Cocoa may be key to preventing hearing loss
Cocoa is known to be an antioxidant that can help prevent cardiovascular inflammation. The researchers hypothesized that the same effects could reduce vascular hypertension in the ear, a condition that is associated with hearing loss. While this causative link was not definitive, the researchers did note a high correlation between chocolate consumption and reduced vascular hypertension:
Those who did not consume chocolate had higher risks of hypertension and dyslipidemia than did those who consumed chocolate. Chocolate exerts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and has been shown to have therapeutic benefits for patients with cardiovascular diseases. Specifically, cocoa, a major ingredient of chocolate, attenuates vascular risks by reducing blood pressure and improving endothelium-dependent vasodilation. In line with this, several investigations demonstrated the causal relationship between vascular risk factors and hearing loss. Thus, the results suggest that chocolate decreases the rates of hypertension and dyslipidemia, which enables the preservation of hearing.
Unfortunately, other beloved foods don’t appear to have the same preventative properties. Specifically, the researchers looked into the consumption of ice cream, cake, and cookies. The data indicated that these foods have no impact, positively or negatively, on rates of hearing loss.
Chocolate doesn’t help relieve tinnitus
The researchers also investigated the relationship between chocolate consumption and tinnitus. Because many people with hearing loss also have tinnitus, the team hypothesized that chocolate consumption might also help prevent tinnitus. Unfortunately, the research found no correlation.
If you have tinnitus or think that you have a hearing loss, Call Schmidt’s Optical and Hearing™today at 772-286-4327 to schedule a free hearing evaluation with our Board Certified Hearing Aid Specialist.