STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Here's news we love delivering to you this morning. There is more evidence that some chocolate could be good for you. A paper published in the journal Heart this week finds there is indeed an association between cocoa and good health. Here's NPR's Allison Aubrey.
ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: Lots of people think of chocolate as a sweet treat. But if you strip it down, what makes that flavorful, chocolaty essence is the cocoa bean. And researchers say it's compounds in the cocoa that may promote good health.
DARIUSH MOZAFFARIAN: What we're learning is that cocoa has polyphenols in it, which seem to improve the health of our blood vessels. That could really be important for cardiovascular disease.
AUBREY: That's Dariush Mozaffarian of Tufts University. The latest evidence comes from a long-term study of about 20,000 adults in England. Researchers found that people who were in the habit of eating chocolate daily had a slightly lower risk of stroke and a lower risk of heart disease. Now, Mozaffarian says the rub with this finding is that it does not prove a cause-and-effect between eating chocolate and healthy hearts. It's possible that the chocolate eaters in this study also had other good habits that could explain why they fared better.
MOZAFFARIAN: So we have to be cautious in interpreting the findings. But I think we can say that there's good evidence that cocoa may improve cardiovascular health.
AUBREY: Notice, he says cocoa not chocolate bars, which tend to be packed with sugar. JoAnn Manson of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston is about to start a new study that isolates just the beneficial plant compounds from cocoa.
JOANN MANSON: We would be testing them in a capsule form, so there wouldn't be the sugar, saturated fat and calories.
AUBREY: Now, if you're like me and you don't want your chocolate in a pill, well, keep eating it the old-fashioned way.
MANSON: Chocolate can be part of a healthful diet.
AUBREY: But Manson says, don't overdo it. The chocolate eaters in this study averaged less than a candy bar per day. Allison Aubrey, NPR News.
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