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7 Stories to Skim: Can Chocolate's Nutrients Help Your Heart?

Image: Dark chocolate
A prototype package and finished dark chocolate is shown atop cacao beans at the new TCHO chocolate factory in San Francisco, Calif., Monday, Aug. 25, 2008.(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)Eric Risberg / AP file

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Here are seven stories from the "Nightly News" team that caught our attention as we get ready for tonight's broadcast.

1. The Healing Power of Chocolate

The next time you feel guilty about eating a piece of chocolate, take comfort -- you could be helping the health of your heart. A new study co-sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the makers of M&M’s has enrolled 18,000 participants to see if pills packed with the same nutrients found in dark chocolate can prevent heart attacks and strokes. Previous studies have already suggested a link between the nutrients in dark chocolate and improved blood pressure and cholesterol.

2. St. Patrick’s Day Parade Minus the Mayors and Beer

The mayors of New York and Boston have made the decision to boycott their respective St. Patrick’s Day parades after parade organizers refused to allow LGBT activists to march. Beer giants Guinness and Sam Adams withdrew parade sponsorship for the same reason. It all begs the question: will financial pressure create the tipping point for LGBT inclusion?

3. Oprah Winfrey to Sell Harpo Studios in Chicago for $32 Million

So long, Chicago! Oprah Winfrey is selling Harpo Studios, longtime home of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” to a developer for a reported $32 million. The studio will remain on the property for two years and will continue to produce programming for OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network. The media mogul also put her Chicago condo up for sale in January for $7.75 million, which leaves us wondering if she eventually plans on saying goodbye to the Windy City.

4. Missing Jet Mystery Expands: Here’s What We Know

It’s Day 10 in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and 26 countries are now joined in the massive effort on land and sea to find clues to the disappearance of the Boeing 777 jet. We are only now getting a sense of the plane’s timeline. The last signal the plane transmitted to the ground was 26 minutes into the flight. The last words communicated from the jet were at 38 minutes with: "All right, good night." About 7.5 hours into the flight, a commercial satellite received a signal from the plane, more than an hour after the plane was scheduled to land in Beijing.

5. Colon Cancer Rates Plummet

Good news for the growing number of Americans who are getting colonoscopies -- all those screenings appear to be paying off. Researchers report a 30 percent drop in colon cancer incidence among Americans 50 and older over the last decade. And colon cancer death rates have also dropped. If people weren't getting colonoscopies, there would be “twice as many deaths,” according to the American Cancer Society’s analysis of government data.

6. Hangover Helper

Sometime in the near future, nanotechnology hopes to do its part in easing the deleterious effects of a hangover. Chemical engineers at UCLA are using nanotechnology to create a pill which will emulate the liver’s enzymes and speed the elimination of alcohol from the body. But we’ve been warned: Hangover studies are complicated, and usually those who participate in the study have not had that much to drink. One researcher notes, “Studies based on rats or humans who drank four beers won’t help the 24-beer client with a 0.3 blood alcohol level.”

7. Leprechauns, Guinness, and Shamrock’s, Oh My!

There’s a saying that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. To celebrate, we dye rivers green, play the bagpipes, and drink before noon. But did you know St. Patrick wasn't actually Irish? And that there's no evidence linking him to the three-leaved shamrock? Learn more fun facts about the holiday here.

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