Here's good news for overweight people who love chocolate. New research suggests that eating chocolate five times a week could help reduce the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD).

On the other hand, a person who does not consume chocolate at all have a higher risk for CAD, researchers from VA Boston Healthcare suggest.

Another finding is that consistent chocolate consumption does not affect those who are underweight and those with a healthy body mass index (BMI).

Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System studied 148,465 American veterans, 90 percent of whom are male and aged over 64. They were also participants of the Million Veteran Program.

Participants were asked how often they consumed 28 grams of plain milk or dark chocolate. The study was conducted over the course of two-and-a-half years.

According to the results 4,055 participants experienced CAD, where plaque builds up in the arteries decreasing blood supply to the heart, during the study period.

It was noted that no one who took part in the research had CAD at the start of the study.

Their findings: those who were overweight that consumed plain chocolates five or more times per week had the least risk.

As to why the effect was not as significant among those who were underweight or with normal BMI, the researchers speculated that the positive effect of the chocolate may be too small for those with normal BMI compared with overweight people, who are readily at higher risk.

Findings were presented during the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions meeting.

Previous studies suggested the positive effects of chocolate included improving the flexibility of the arteries and preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels - which otherwise contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, according to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

A controlled study headed by researchers from San Diego State University noted that dark chocolate consumption can lead to lower bad cholesterol and higher good cholesterol levels, which is good for heart health. MIMS

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