Eating dark chocolate regularly may lower risk of heart disease by lowering levels of inflammation, say Italian researchers.
In this new study, 4,849 healthy adults were asked about their consumption of dark chocolate along with other health information. The researchers then measured blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of low-grade inflammation that has been linked to higher risk of heart disease.
CRP levels averaged 1.32 mg/L in people who did not eat dark chocolate - compared to 1.10 mg/L in people who did eat dark chocolate.
The benefits were seen when people ate up to one 20-gram serving of dark chocolate every 3 days.
Eating more chocolate wasn't more beneficial. In fact, effects on CRP levels "tended to disappear" at higher consumption levels, said the researchers.
It's thought that the anti-inflammatory properties of dark chocolate may be due to the antioxidant flavonoids in this bittersweet treat.
Previous studies have shown that eating dark chocolate every day could lower high blood pressure.This study was published in the September 23, 2008 issue of The Journal of Nutrition.
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