August 13, 2009

Sweet Relief: Chocolate Cuts Heart Attack Risk

There's good news for chocoholics: a new study has found that eating chocolate two or more times during the week can reduce a person's risk of heart attack.

Writing in the September edition of the Journal of Internal Medicine, Imre Janszky of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and colleagues were the first to show how chocolate can cut the risk of death among patients who have previously suffered a heart attack.

"It was specific to chocolate -- we found no benefit to sweets in general," said Kenneth Mukamal, a researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston told AFP.

"It seems that antioxidants in cocoa are a likely candidate."

Researchers noted that while smaller servings of chocolate provided less protection, it is still better than no chocolate at all in protecting against a heart attack.

Their study combined 1,169 non-diabetic men and women, 45-to-70 years old. Each participant was monitored shortly after suffering his or her first heart attack. Researchers questioned volunteers about their diets"”specifically how much chocolate they ate on a regular basis.

"Our findings support increasing evidence that chocolate is a rich source of beneficial bioactive compounds," researchers wrote.

"To be frank, I'm pretty cautious about chocolate because we're working on weight problems with so many individuals," said Mukamal.

"However, I do encourage those who are looking for healthier desserts to consider chocolate in small quantities," he said.


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