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Benefits of dark chocolate tested on kids

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When it comes to chocolate, kids will eat it -- even if it's the dark variety.

It will not make them fat, but the jury is out on whether a daily dose of the sweet stuff is the best medicine for their heart health.

Research by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne involved feeding 0.25oz of dark chocolate to 200 elementary school children daily for seven weeks.

Dark chocolate lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke in adults, but the effects on children has never been explored.

Researcher and pediatrician Professor Melissa Wake said they found little difference in blood pressure before and after consuming the two buttons of dark chocolate.

Children aged 10-12 were given dark chocolate with a high antioxidant content every day.

Blood pressure, weight, height, body fat and waist circumference were measured throughout the study. Researchers found there was no significant weight gain.

"Like any food, if you eat too much dark chocolate you would put on weight," Wake said.

Helping children keep their blood pressure low could reduce the burden of the country's two biggest adult killers -- stroke and heart disease, researchers said.

"There is a staggering amount of chocolate being eaten by kids, but most of that is white or milk chocolate, which does not have the same health benefits of dark chocolate," Wake said. "If you are going to feed your child chocolate, give them dark."

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