December 19, 2005

Dark chocolate may cut heart disease risk: study

LONDON (Reuters) - A few squares of dark chocolate every
day might cut the risk of serious heart disease by helping to
stave off the hardening of arteries, according to a study
published on Tuesday.

Researchers from University Hospital in Zurich studied 20
male smokers, who are at greater risk of hardening arteries
characteristic of coronary heart disease, to see the effects of
dark and white chocolate on arterial blood flow.

The group, who were asked to abstain from eating foods rich
in antioxidants for 24 hours, were given 40 grams (2 ounces) of
chocolate to eat.

After two hours, ultrasound scans revealed that dark
chocolate -- made up of 74 percent cocoa solids --
significantly improved the smoothness of arterial flow, whilst
white chocolate, with four percent cocoa, had no effect, the
study published in Heart magazine said.

The researchers, who said further studies were needed,
suggested that the possible benefits arose from the
antioxidants in dark chocolate.

"Only a small daily treat of dark chocolate may
substantially increase the amount of antioxidant intake and
beneficially affect vascular health," they said.