A new study involving almost 21,000 men and women has discovered that eating as much as 3.5 ounces of chocolate each day was associated with a lowered risk of heart disease and stroke. The study was published in the health journal Heart.

“The calculations showed that compared with those who ate no chocolate, higher intake was linked to an 11 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 25 percent lower risk of associated death,” read the journal study.

But the researchers were quick to point out they were not suggesting everyone add daily chocolate to their diet, saying much more research was needed.

There has been on-going debate over several years over whether or not chocolate was good for ones health.

Howard LeWine, chief medical editor of the Harvard University health blog, said finding a link or association between chocolate and heart health is not the same thing as proving a cause and effect.

“We don’t yet know enough to put eating chocolate on a par with eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains,” he said.

Other experts said the latest study adds weight note to an increasing list of research that show bioactive plant compounds in cocoa beans, known as polyphenols, may provide some protection against heart disease.

JoAnn Manson, chief of the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston said they will be testing cocoa beans in capsule form so that none of the sugar, fat and calories found in a typical candy bar can be a factor.

The experts suggest, stick to dark chocolate since it has more cocoa with its polyphenols and less of the sugar and milk found in milk chocolate.

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