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It was surprising enough when chocolate milk started being touted as a perfect post-exercise recovery drink, thanks to its 4-to-1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. Now a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that the flavonoids in cocoa may slow or even prevent the development of atherosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries:
Scientists in Barcelona, Spain, recruited 47 volunteers ages 55 and older who were at risk for heart disease. Half were given 20-gram sachets of soluble cocoa powder to drink with skim milk twice a day, while the rest drank plain skim milk. After one month, the groups were switched. Blood tests found that after participants drank chocolate milk twice a day for four weeks, they had significantly lower levels of several inflammatory biomarkers, though some markers of cellular inflammation remained unchanged. Participants also had significantly higher levels of good HDL cholesterol after completing the chocolate milk regimen… [New York Times]
Needless to say, chocolate milk — like wine — should be consumed in moderation.