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A little chocolate can lower heart risk

BALTIMORE, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Just a few squares of chocolate a day can almost halve the risk of heart-attack death in some men and women, according to Baltimore researchers.

The chocolate decreased the tendency of platelets to clot in narrow blood vessels, says Diane Becker of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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"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 Becker.

Nonetheless, 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.

However, 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, says Becker.

The findings have been presented at the American Heart Association's annual Scientific Sessions in Chicago.

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