It has long been suggested that dark chocolate is good for your heart.
Now a study has confirmed that eating it in moderate quantities does indeed lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
The research team set out to test the direct effect of eating chocolate which is a source of several substances that scientists think might impart important health benefits.
Good for you: The research found that dark chocolate may reduce the risk of heart disease
Chocolate contains compounds called ‘flavanols’ that appear to play a variety of bodily roles including those related to their potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions.
Researchers at San Diego State University in the U.S. asked 31 people to eat a 50g bar of either regular dark chocolate, dark chocolate that had been overheated, or white chocolate, for 15 days.
When compared to the white chocolate group, those eating either form of dark chocolate were later found to have lower blood glucose and lower levels of ‘bad’ blood lipids.
The researchers concluded that dark chocolate may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by improving blood glucose levels and lipid profiles.
However, they warned that although habitual dark chocolate consumption may benefit health by reducing the risk of heart disease, it must be eaten in moderation because it can easily increase daily amounts of saturated fat and calories.
A spokesman for the research team said: ‘We had great compliance with our study subjects because everybody wanted to eat chocolate.
‘We actually had to tell them not to eat more than 50g a day.’
Now the researchers are planning follow-up studies involving more people and a longer duration of chocolate consumption.
The results will be presented at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting in San Diego.