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Tuesday
Jan292008

You Love Chocolate?

Some “chocoholics” who just couldn’t give up their favorite treat have inadvertently done their fellow chocolate lovers - and science - a big favor.

A recent study at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine was focused on blood platelets and blood clots. The study participants, some of whom were fond of eating chocolate, were given a list of foods to avoid – the list included chocolate.  It seems that some of them ended up indulging their cravings for chocolate during the study.

Amazingly, their indulgence led to researchers to an important discovery which is believed to be the first of its kind.  Through biochemical analysis, the researchers are now able to explain why just a few squares of chocolate a day can reduce the risk of heart attack death in some men and women by almost 50%. 

It turns out that the chocolate decreases the tendency of platelets to clot in narrow blood vessels. “What these chocolate ‘offenders’ taught us is that the chemical in cocoa beans has a biochemical effect similar to aspirin in reducing platelet clumping, which can be fatal if a clot forms and blocks a blood vessel, causing a heart attack,” says Diane Becker, M.P.H., Sc.D., a professor at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Becker cautions that her work is not intended as a prescription to gobble up large amounts of chocolate candy, which often contains diet-busting amounts of sugar, butter and cream.  But as little as 2 tablespoons a day of dark chocolate - the purest form of the candy, made from the dried extract of roasted cocoa beans - may be just what the doctor ordered. 

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