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Chocolate lovers live longer

If you feel guilty every time you sneak a candy bar, take heart -- especially if your candy of choice is chocolate. According to research, you can indulge your sweet tooth, within reason, with a clear conscience.

Researchers at Harvard Medical school found that men who ate candy lived, on average, about  a year longer than men who didn't eat candy. Good news -- considering Americans eat an average of 14 pounds of chocolate and almost 12 pounds of other candy yearly.

While this study didn't differentiate between chocolate and other types of candy, researchers theorized that antioxidant phenols in chocolate could be responsible for the life-prolonging effect. A one-and-a-half ounce piece of chocolate contains as much phenol as a glass of red wine -- and a moderate intake of red wine is known to protect against heart disease.

Another study found that healthy people who drank a table-spoon of cocoa powder in water took longer to form blood clots, apparently because the coca slowed down the clotting action of platelets. This could reduce heart attack and stroke risk the same way a daily aspirin does.

And a recent study found that chocolate increases sex drive in women. while this might not have anything to do with health or longevity, men may be encouraged to know that all those heart-shaped boxes of chocolates at Valentine's Day do serve a purpose.

All this adds up to the fact that chocolate isn't so bad after all, and it may even be good for you. As usual, moderation is the key. Too much of almost anything is bad for you, and too much chocolate can pack on some decidedly unhealthy pounds.

If you're a victim of irresistible chocolate cravings, experts offer some advice -- don't eat chocolate when you're hungry. A recent study found that chocolate cravers who waited until1 5 minutes after a meal to indulge their chocolate urge reduced their craving to the level of non-cravers. Researchers say you learn to crave chocolate if you regularly use it to satisfy your hunger.

So don't overdo it, and you can savor your chocolate with the knowledge that you might be improving your health.

     
     

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