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Chocolate 'offenders' teach sweet lesson

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Some chocoholics who couldn't give up their favorite treat to comply with a study to test blood stickiness have inadvertently done science a big favor.

Some chocoholics who couldn't give up their favorite treat to comply with a study to test blood stickiness have inadvertently done science a big favor.

The 138 patients were excluded from a larger study that looked at aspirin's effect on blood platelets. But Diane Becker, M.P.H., Sc.D., a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, decided to scour the blood results of the "offenders" for chocolate's effect on platelets. The study was reported at the 2006 American Heart Association meeting.

Platelets from the chocolate lovers clotted more slowly than platelets from other participants. Researchers said this is the first biochemical analysis to explain why chocolate can reduce the risk of death from heart attack.

Becker cautioned that it is best to avoid chocolate candy that contains large amounts of sugar, butter, and cream. But as little as two tablespoons a day of dark chocolate may be just what the doctor ordered.

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