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Is eating chocolate heart-healthy? Study says ‘yes’

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Houston — Go ahead, indulge in some chocolate – it just may lower your risk of heart disease, researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine say.

The researchers reviewed six studies conducted over the past five decades that involved more than 336,000 individuals from the United States, Sweden and Australia. They examined the link between chocolate consumption and coronary artery disease among the participants.

During the follow-ups, which took place an average of nine years later, 14,043 participants had developed heart disease and 4,667 had experienced one or more heart attacks. The researchers found that those who ate chocolate more than once a week had an 8% decrease in risk of heart disease compared with participants who ate chocolate less than once a week.

“In the past, clinical studies have shown that chocolate is beneficial for both blood pressure and the lining of blood vessels,” lead study author Chayakrit Krittanawong of the Baylor College of Medicine said in a July 22 press release. “Chocolate contains heart-healthy nutrients such as flavonoids, methylxanthines, polyphenols and stearic acid, which may reduce inflammation and increase good cholesterol.”

Although the researchers didn’t examine particular types of chocolate or an ideal portion size, they caution against overindulging because of the amount of calories, fat and sugar in some chocolates. Of particular concern are people with diabetes or those who are obese.

The study was published online July 22 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

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