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Love Dark Chocolate? Good for You . . . . Really PDF Print E-mail

A daily nibble of dark chocolate may slash the risk of heart attacks and strokes by more than one-third, a study of 20,000 middle-aged Germans found.

The report provides more evidence about the beneficial effects of chocolate, particularly the dark variety that’s rick in cocoa and potentially protective compounds called flavanols, said Buijsse, a nutritional epidemiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Nuthetal.  Chocolate appeared to have a more powerful effect than fruit and vegetables, a  mainstay of a healthy diet.  Those who ate the most chocolate also consumed the fewest fruits and vegetables. 

The researchers divided volunteers into four groups, ranked by the amount of chocolate they ate.  Those in the highest quadrant ate about 7.5 grams a day, the equivalent of about one square of a standard 100 gram chocolate bar.

Although chocolate is known to reduce blood pressure, lower levels in chocolate lovers accounted for only a small part of the benefit seen in the study.   Flavanols may add extra protection by boosting the impact of nitric oxide, a gas that relaxes smooth muscle cells lining blood vessel walls and helps reduce clotting, he said.

"The substances in cocoa, favanols, are making the blood vessels more elastic and less stiff," he said  That’s bad news for white chocolate lovers.

"White chocolate doesn’t do anything, probably because it doesn’t contain any flavanols," he said.

Winnipeg Free Press
Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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