LONDON, England (CNN) -- Scientists in the UK are seeking 150 women to eat chocolate every day for a year in the cause of medical research.
The trial, at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, eastern England, will test whether a natural compound found in cocoa, the main ingredient of chocolate, could cut the risk of heart disease among women with diabetes.
A Belgian confectionist has created the special chocolate bar containing high levels of flavonoids -- a plant compound that has been shown to reduce heart risk factors -- to be used in the experiment. Soy, another natural source of flavonoids, has also been added to the bar.
Participants, who must be postmenopausal women under the age of 70, will have their risk of heart disease tested on five occasions during the year to see whether change occurs.
"The hypothesis of this exciting study is that flavonoids may improve the level of protection against heart disease over and above that provided by conventional drugs," said Dr. Ketan Dhatariya, a consultant in diabetes at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
"If the trial confirms this, it could have a far-reaching impact on the advice we give to postmenopausal women who have type 2 diabetes."
Deaths due to heart disease among women increase rapidly after the menopause. For women who suffer from type 2 diabetes, the risk of heart disease is up to three and a half times higher. Type 2 diabetes is caused when the body fails to produce enough insulin or produces insulin that doesn't work properly and is frequently linked with obesity.
"Despite postmenopausal women being at a similar risk to men for developing cardiovascular disease, to date they are under-represented in clinical trials," said Professor Aedin Cassidy, Professor of Diet and Health at UEA, who is heading the research.
"We hope to show that adding flavonoids to their diets will provide additional protection from heart disease and give women the opportunity to take more control over reducing their risk of heart disease in the future." E-mail to a friend
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