Eating cocoa can help elderly people cut their risk of dying from heart disease by as much as 50 per cent, Dutch scientists found.

They added that consuming cocoa in a range of forms – in dark or
milk chocolate, biscuits, spreads, mousses, drinks and "chocolate
confetti" – also appeared to cut the risk of death overall and could
even help guard against some cancers.

Their
findings come as a result of analysing information about the health and
diet of a group of several hundred elderly Dutch men, which was
collected over 15 years.

A separate study using the same group of men aged 65 to 84, from the
town of Zutphen in the Netherlands, found that optimism also reduced
the risk of dying of a heart attack or stroke by 50 per cent.

Brian Buijsse, of the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and
the Environment, and colleagues wrote in a report published by the
Journal of the American Medical Association: "Usual cocoa intake was
associated with a 45 to 50 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular death
and all-cause death.

http://tenbyten.org/Data/2004/11/08/cocoa.jpg"Because cocoa is a rich source of antioxidants, it may also be
related to other diseases that are linked to oxidative stress, such as
pulmonary diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,
and certain types of cancer. However, this merits further
investigation."

The researchers said the elderly men got two-thirds of their cocoa from chocolate confectionery.

Confectionery giant Mars has revealed it plans to mass-produce a
line of products under the name CocoaVia, which claim to tackle heart
disease and cut the risk of cancer. The sweets are made from a type of
dark chocolate high in flavanols, an antioxidant found in cocoa beans
that is thought to have a blood-thinning effect similar to aspirin.

The study of mental attitude by other Dutch researchers found "a
strong and consistent association" with optimism and a 50 per cent
lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, in line with previous
studies that a "positive life orientation" is good for your physical
health.