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Women over the age of 70 that eat chocolate at least once per week are significantly less likely to develop heart problems according to a study published recently in the November 2010 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
For the study the researchers had 1,216 mature women estimate their chocolate consumption. The women were then tracked for over a decade.
When the researchers compared women who ate chocolate at least once a week to those who ate chocolate infrequently or never, they found that chocolate consumption appeared to reduce the risk of being hospitalized due to heart disease by 35%. The risk of heart failure dropped even more significantly, with chocolate eaters 60% less likely to be hospitalized or die from heart failure.
This was not the first study to associate chocolate with heart benefits but this particular study showed that it may not take much chocolate to make a difference.
It is important to note that not all chocolate is created equal. In fact, chocolates with a higher percentage of cocoa, such as dark chocolate, tend to be much healthier. This is because darker chocolate has higher levels of flavonols.
Flavonols are the naturally occurring antioxidants found in cocoa which have previously been shown to decrease inflammation, protect our DNA from damage and improve heart and brain health by increasing blood flow. It is important not to overindulge when it comes to chocolate because the high saturated fat content can easily outweigh any antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
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