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Brigham And Women's Study To Test 'Chocolate' Pills For Heart Health

BOSTON (CBS) – It sounds like research that people would line up to take part in - a study to see whether the nutrients in dark chocolate can help prevent heart attacks and strokes.

The trial will be done at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

However, the 18,000 men and women who will take part will not be eating candy.

The cocoa flavanols found in dark chocolate will be taken in the form of a pill.

One of the lead researchers Dr. JoAnn Manson, told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 the flavanols are "very exciting for heart health."

"In smaller trials they've been shown to reduce blood pressure, improve the cholesterol profile, improve sensitivity to insulin and also help the blood vessels to dilate," Manson said.

But cocoa flavanols have never been tested in a large scale, randomized trial until now.

Manson said the trial participants will take 750 milligrams of coco flavanol a day.

The pill won't taste like chocolate. In fact, Manson said it will "have no taste."

So how many chocolate bars would get you 750 mg of cocoa flavanols?

"You would be eating chocolate all day long and not get that amount," Manson said, adding that you should not rush out to start binging on chocolate.

"Many chocolates that are on the market are very low in cocoa flavanols and some have even no flavinol content," she told WBZ.

"So, to achieve this intake of cocoa flavanols through chocolate alone would lead to an average of more than 50 pounds of weight gain per year."

That's why it's being concentrated into a capsule without the calories, sugar and fat of chocolate.

"This is not really intended to be a study of chocolate candy. This is a study of the bio-active nutrients within the cocoa bean," Manson said.

"Very often these flavanols can make chocolate taste more bitter, which is why many people do not enjoy eating and actually tasting the higher flavanol content chocolate."

Manson said they will start enrolling participants in the trial later this year.


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