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Dark chocolate and olive oil are good to improve cardiovascular health

A new Italian study of the University of Pisa has found that a daily serving of dark chocolate enriched with extra virgin olive oil boosted participants' cardiovascular health and lowered the risk of potentially fatal problems later in life.

All the participants in the study had at least three cardiovascular risk factors : smoking, dyslipidaemia, hypertension, or family history. They were asked to eat 40 grams of chocolate that was randomly enriched with either olive oil or red apples every day for 28 days. It was found that the chocolate enriched with olive oil was associated with significantly increased levels of high-density lipoprotein ("good") cholesterol and decreased blood pressure.

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Even if potentially the properties of both ingredients are strongest when eaten together, it’s however considered that the benefits of oil are more important. "We found that small daily portions of dark chocolate with added natural polyphenols from extra virgin olive oil was associated with an improved cardiovascular risk profile. Our study suggests that extra virgin olive oil might be a good food additive to help preserve our 'repairing cells', the EPC," the lead author and cardiologist Dr Rossella Di Stefano said. Previously, in another Italian study at the University of L'Aquila was found that dark chocolate could boost the brain power. It is known to be rich in flavonols, a natural compound that has protective effects on the brain.

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