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Study to test chocolate and heart health

Bethesda, Md. (AP) -- Chocolate lovers might perk up at word that researchers will study the potential health benefits of the yummy treat, but it's not about eating candy bars.

A study of 18,000 men and women is being launched to see if pills containing the nutrients in dark chocolate can help prevent heart attacks and strokes.

The pills are so packed with nutrients that a person couldn't eat enough candy bars to get the same dose -- and the pills won't have the sugar or the fat.

In smaller studies, cocoa flavanols improved blood pressure, cholesterol, the body's use of insulin, artery health and other heart-related factors.

The study will be sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and Mars Inc., maker of M&M's and Snickers candy bars. The candy company has patented a way to extract flavanols from cocoa in high concentration and put them in capsules.

 
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