A study published in the British Medical Journal, Aug.2011 shows that chocolate consumption significantly reduces cardiovascular disease risk factors, including coronary heart disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
The study conducted at the University of Cambridge in England, viewed seven independent studies of cocoa consumption among more than 10,000 participants.
The authors concluded that increased chocolate intake was significantly associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
Those who ate the most chocolate were able to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by 31 %, and stroke by 29 %.
This is because of the long known benefits of polyphenols found in chocolate and their ability to protect the heart from the build-up of atherosclerosis or plaques.
Certain dark chocolates provide some of the greatest sources of these healthy plant molecules in our diet.
The majority of the benefits of chocolate on heart disease are from special cocoa flavonoids which have been shown to clinically lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol.
The BMJ cautions however that commercially available chocolate products contain high levels of sugar and fat which can increase weight gain.
But there are cocoa products found at health food stores ( eg. Goodness Me ) which contain the health benefits of cocoa without the added sugars and fats.