Dietary magnesium, found in foods such as dark chocolate and avocado, may help protect postmenopausal women from fatal coronary heart disease, a recent study suggests.

Women who consumed more magnesium when compared to their peers in the Women’s Health Initiative study had a significantly lower risk of fatal coronary heart disease, reported Charles Eaton, M.D., and colleagues from Brown University. The results held after adjusting for variables such as age, ethnicity, income, smoking status and use of acid reflux medication, which can affect magnesium absorption.

The study also showed a trend between greater magnesium intake and lower risk of sudden cardiac death.

The results do not prove that low magnesium intake causes cardiovascular disease or events, the researchers added. Dietary magnesium may not directly correlate with magnesium levels in the blood, and can be affected by other dietary factors, medication use and comorbidities, they concluded.

Full findings were published in the Journal of Women’s Health.