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Cardiovascular health, cholesterol levels and blood pressure: Many studies suggest that cocoa has beneficial effects on cardiovascular health, improving blood pressure, vascular function and blood flow. It appears to reduce platelet aggregation and adhesion, making arteries healthier and reducing clot risk. Chocolate with good levels of plant sterols and cocoa flavanols may lower cholesterol slightly, but only - you’ve guessed it - when eaten as part of a low fat diet. Stroke: A study involving 44,489 people concluded that chocolate eaters were 22% less likely to suffer a stroke and 46% less likely to die from one. Brain function: Another study has shown that chocolate can help preserve blood flow in the brain and prevent memory decline in older people. This could be an important factor in diseases such as Alzheimer's. Mood: Chocolate contains chemicals that can raise our serotonin levels and may also affect other receptors in

the brain that trigger feelings of well-being. Migraine: While chocolate contains come chemicals believed to be migraine triggers, recent data shows that cocoa contains compounds that would be beneficial in migraine treatment. There’s no need to avoid it unless you’re sure it’s a trigger. Osteoporosis: Now for the bad news. Chocolate may contribute to osteoporosis. One study of women aged 7085 found that daily chocolate consumers had lower bone density and strength, which may be due to oxalate content, as oxalate reduces calcium absorption. Proper comparison studies haven’t been done between white, milk and dark chocolate, but most beneficial effects come from the cocoa content, while the unwanted effects are from the fat and sugar. So choose high cocoa content and low sugar and fat varieties when you can, and view chocolate as something to be eaten in moderation as part of a healthy diet.

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