Chocolate helps the heart. Sweet!

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chocolateResearchers from Johns Hopkins University have found that dark chocolate thins blood and protects the heart in the same way as aspirin. The key is a compound in chocolate called flavanol, which slows down platelet clumping that can block off blood vessels and lead to a heart attack or stroke.

You have to eat at least a couple of tablespoons of dark chocolate a day to see some benefit - and it's still not as effective as a single baby aspirin, which is usually prescribed to heart patients.

Matching aspirin would require eating several bars of chocolate a day, which could lead to other problems, such as obesity and diabetes - to say nothing of tooth decay.

"I would never tell people to go ahead and eat chocolate because chocolate travels with a lot of friends, like fat and sugar," said epidemiologist Diane Becker, who led the study funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Becker's discovery was presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association in Chicago Tuesday.

It results from an analysis of the urine of chocolate eaters, which found less thromboxane, a compound that indicates blood clotting. Blood analysis also showed slower clotting.

source - LA Times