A little bit of chocolate indulgence goes a long way, especially when it comes to one's health. New research claims that frequently eating chocolate could lower your risk for atherosclerosis, as well as for hospitalization and premature death from heart disease or heart failure.

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Reporting in this week's Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania compared the effects of eating chocolate on heart health among more than 1,200 older women. Using dietary questionnaires, they looked at how frequently the women ate chocolate and also looked at ultrasound images of their carotid arteries to see if there were any changes in artery thickness (a typical sign of atherosclerosis).

The participants where divided into three groups based on their chocolate consumption. Researchers found that atherosclerosis-related events affected 158 people who ate chocolate only once a week. Other findings included 90 atherosclerotic events among people who ate chocolate one to six times per week, and only 42 atherosclerotic events among people who ate chocolate seven or more times per week.

The researchers also conducted a secondary analysis among people who ate chocolate less than once a week and people who ate chocolate one to six times per week. Having looked at hospital records, they found that hospitalizations and deaths related to atherosclerosis were lower among people who ate chocolate one to six times per week. This group also had a lower rate of ischemic heart disease, heart failure, and also fewer atherosclerotic plaques (fatty blockages that reduce blood flow).

However, as good as this news may seem, just remember that while chocolate may be good for the heart, we can't say the same about how it might affect your waistline.

via AOL