People who eat 100 g of chocolate, equivalent to a small bar, every day lower their risk of heart disease by 11 per cent and stroke by 23 per cent compared to someone who doesn't eat any chocolate.
But what surprised the researchers from the EPIC-Norfolk study was that similar beneficial effects were seen whether dark or dairy chocolate was eaten. This suggests that flavonoids aren't the only healthy ingredient in chocolate, but that other compounds associated with dairy, such as calcium and fatty acids, may also help towards heart health.
The results are based on a survey of almost 21,000 adults living in Norfolk, UK, whose lifestyles and health were tracked for 12 years. In that time, 3,013 participants suffered heart disease or stroke.
The researchers do sound a note of caution: people may have deliberately under-reported the amount of chocolate they were eating, and those with heart disease may have decided to eat less chocolate.
But one thing's for sure: eating chocolate probably won't do your heart any harm.
(Source: Heart, 2015; doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2014-307050)