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Could a Bit of Chocolate Help Keep Your Heart on Beat?

About one in four adults will develop atrial fibrillation (the most common type of irregular heartbeat) in their lifetime. Thats a big deal because atrial fibrillation increases risk of stroke by five-fold. Atrial fibrillation also increases risk of heart failure and impaired cognition (brain function). A recent study in the journal Heart showed moderate chocolate intake was associated with a 10 to 20% decreased risk of being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. But, is nibbling on chocolate for prevention too good to be true?

Weight Gain in Younger Adults Linked to Increased Health Risks Later

Small, gradual weight gain during early and middle adulthood may get little attention since it doesn't necessarily cause health problems in our younger years. But, it may have serious consequences later in life.

Moderate Alcohol Intake May Help Preserve “Good” Cholesterol

For years we've heard that drinking wine and other alcoholic beverages in moderation may be good for our heart. The majority of alcohol's cardiovascular benefits have been attributed to its association with higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, which helps protect artery health. But how does alcohol affect your HDL over the long term, and does it matter what kind of alcoholic beverage it is?

The Benefits of Oats

You've probably heard oats helps lower cholesterol, which is due to their beta-glucan soluble fiber that makes oatmeal sticky. A new British Journal of Nutrition review of 58 clinical trials on oats that involved 3,974 people across the globe expands the role of oatmeal in reducing cardiovascular risk.

Weight Loss Can Improve Lipid Levels

Losing weight can improve your cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as your waistline, according to a major new intervention study. The study found similar weight loss amounts could be achieved by lower-fat or lower-carbohydrate diets, whether the lower-carb diet was rich in walnuts or in monounsaturated fat (as in canola or olive oils).

No Cholesterol Benefit from Soy Flour

Switching to soy flour doesn't help improve cholesterol levels, according to a new study in the Journal of Nutrition. Researchers compared muffins made with soy protein, with a mixture of soy and wheat, and with a whey-protein control on 213 adults with elevated LDL cholesterol.

Nuts Improve Cholesterol Levels

At least part of the proven cardiovascular benefits of eating nuts can be explained by their effects on cholesterol and other blood lipids, according to new Tufts research.

New Evidence of Brain Benefits from Following a Mediterranean-Style Diet

A newly published followup to findings from a study of the so-called Mediterranean diet adds to the evidence that such an eating pattern, especially when it includes nuts and olive oil, may help protect the aging brain. Results from a subgroup of the Spanish PREDIMED study showed that those assigned to a Mediterranean diet held steady in cognition while a control group declined. While previous observational studies have linked a traditional Mediterranean-style dietary pattern to cognitive protection, this is the first such evidence from a large randomized clinical trial.

Coffee Drinkers Have Clearer Arteries

Scientists may now better understand at least one way in which coffee could help to protect against cardiovascular disease. A large new Korean study reports that people drinking three to five cups of coffee daily were 41% less likely to show signs of coronary artery calcium than non-coffee drinkers. This calcification is an early indicator of the artery-clogging plaques (atherosclerosis) that cause coronary artery disease, which afflicts nearly 16 million Americans. (See box.)

Avocados Could Improve Your Cholesterol-and More

Not so long ago, avocados were a seasonal delicacy in most of the country, and when they were available, their high fat content scared away health-conscious consumers. With loosened import rules from Mexico, however, sales of Hass avocados (about 95% of the US market) have more than doubled in the past decade. Last year, Americans peeled about 4.25 billion avocados, and in February avocados even boasted their own Super Bowl commercial.