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New research may take the guilt out of your afternoon chocolate habit. The study, published in the journal Nutrition, found that regular consumption of chocolate high in cocoa has beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system. “Cocoa contains a large amount of polyphenolic antioxidants, flavanols in particular. The most represented flavanols in cocoa are epicatechin and catechin, which are also present in wine, tea, and berries, and have recently been considered a biologically active food constituent by the European Food Safety Authority.” “Several intervention studies have demonstrated that flavanol-rich cocoa exerts beneficial effects on health in general, such as protecting endothelial function, reducing insulin resistance and blood pressure, improving lipid profile, and assisting in the regulation of body weight. Regarding the benefits of cocoa flavanols at the cardiovascular level, it is known that they are largely due to a beneficial effect on endothelial and vascular function,” the authors explained.