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Researchers to test Chocolate Pill on 18,000 People

Update Date: Mar 17, 2014 09:23 AM EDT

Several studies have reported that certain types of chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, can provide health benefits when consumed in moderation. In a new study, researchers will set out to examine the effects of chocolate on health. However, instead of asking participants to eat chocolate pieces, the researchers have created a chocolate pill with all the benefits of chocolate without the fat and sugar.

In the first part of the study, the participants will be split into the chocolate pill group and a placebo group. The chocolate group will take two chocolate capsules that contain the nutrients of chocolate, mainly cocoa flavanols, which have been tied to improving blood pressure levels, cholesterol, insulin use in the body and cardiovascular health. Unlike chocolate bars, the pills will not have sugar and fat. The pills were also made to have no flavors at all. Throughout the study, the researchers and the participants will not know who is taking the placebo pill versus the chocolate pill.

"You're not going to get these protective flavanols in most of the candy on the market. Cocoa flavanols are often destroyed by the processing," Dr. JoAnn Manson, preventive medicine chief at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA said according to the AP. Manson will lead the study with Howard Sesso at Brigham and other researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA.

In a second part of the study, the researchers plan on testing the effects of taking multivitamins in preventing cancer. Previous studies that have reported the ineffectiveness of taking multivitamins in preventing cancer focused mainly on older, unusually healthy men. This study, which will contain a broader set of individuals, will divide the participants into a vitamins group and a placebo group as well.

The study is a three-year study that was launched by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and Mars Inc., a company that produces chocolate such as the Snickers bars and M&M's. It plans on enrolling 18,000 male and female participants throughout the United States. The researchers will recruit the volunteers from large existing studies in order to save money and time.

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