A possible otoprotective effect from one of our favourite foodstuffs has been highlighted by the results of the first large cohort study of the effect of chocolate on hearing loss in middle-aged people.

This mouth-watering research by a team led by Sang-Yeon Lee of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Seoul National University Hospital, surveyed a total of 3575 subjects from 40 to 64 years of age.

Concluding that “the rate of any hearing loss (unilateral or bilateral hearing loss) was significantly lower in the subjects who consumed chocolate (26.78%) than in those who did not (35.97%).

In addition, chocolate consumption decreased the risk of bilateral hearing loss (13.31% vs. 20.32%) and high-tone hearing loss (51.58% vs. 63.60%), respectively.

The study, published in the journal Nutrients on March 30 this year, also showed an inverse correlation between the severity of hearing loss and the frequency of chocolate consumption.

Earlier animal studies have already pointed to various compounds in chocolate protecting against hearing loss. Chocolate exerts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, which may provide some protection to the cochlea, which is especially susceptible to oxidative stress.

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