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Dark chocolate may be healthier than fruit juices for a healthy heart

Forget fruit juice – chocolate could be an even better way to boost your health, new research shows.

Dark chocolate and cocoa have more anti-oxidant capacity than fruit juice, according to a study released Sunday in the Chemistry Central Journal.

Chocolate products also have more heart-healthy flavanols and polyphenol, the study found. The good news doesn’t apply to hot cocoa mix, which is processed.

“When looking for a sweet snack, a square of dark chocolate might, in fact, be your healthiest choice,” said Suzanne Steinbaum, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.

She wasn’t surprised by the findings, noting the anti-oxidants keep arteries in tip-top shape and help prevent heart disease.

The study, conducted by the Hershey Co., compared cocoa powder and products with fruit-based powders and juices. Cocoa came out ahead on the anti-oxidant scale over blueberry, cranberry and pomegranate powder.

The differences between pomegranate juice and dark chocolate weren’t significant, researchers found.

Still, dark chocolate trumped other juices in the anti-oxidant test.

“Cocao seeds should be considered a ‘superfruit’ and products derived from cocao seed extracts, such as natural cocoa powder and dark chocolate, as ‘superfoods,'” the researchers said.

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