Chocolate is good for your heart and lowers blood pressure, a new study has claimed.
Researchers said it contains antioxidants known as flavanols that help to loosen veins and arteries.
The study by the University of Surrey suggested that people who consumed cocoa supplements experienced lower blood pressure and had stretchy blood vessels three hours later.
The tablets contained as many flavanols as around 500g of dark chocolate.
Study author Professor Christian Heiss said the positive effect cocoa flavanols had on our cardiovascular system could not be denied.
Quoted in The Sun, he said: “We used a lot of flavanols but some dark chocolate has significant amounts, too.
“Average intake of flavanols is about three times lower than you need to feel the effects so I think even if people increase it a little bit they would get a benefit.
“A diet of 100 per cent chocolate would definitely cause other problems but you can also get them from red wine, blueberries and spinach.”
Around a third of people in the UK suffers with high blood pressure, which makes them more vulnerable to heart attacks and strokes.
The research, published in the Frontiers in Nutrition journal, saw 11 people alternate days between cocoa pills or a placebo during their usual daily routine.
The results showed blood pressure was lower on the days they took the cocoas and their blood vessels could grow and shrink more easily.
The supplements did not reduce blood pressure on days when it was already lower, which could make it more advantageous compared to existing medications.
Prof Heiss said that the next phase of the research would be to test its effectiveness among patients.