Consuming dark chocolate or cocoa could help lower blood pressure, an Australian study has shown.
It's not the first time a study has examined the link between chocolate and heart health, but the latest has analysed the results of 20 trials involving 856 people.
Cocoa contains flavanols, which are thought to produce nitric oxide in the body.
Nitric oxide causes blood-vessel walls to open wider, reducing blood pressure.
Eating 3-100g of flavanol-rich chocolate or cocoa powder reduced blood pressure in the short-term studies.
Lead researcher Karin Ried of the National Institute of Integrative Medicine in Melbourne, who worked with University of Adelaide researchers, said chocolate consumption might contribute to reducing the risk of heart disease.
But the Heart Foundation said chocolate, despite its antioxidant properties, came with saturated fat and kilojoules.The best way to get enough antioxidants was to eat a variety of vegetables, fruit, legumes, wholegrain breads and cereals, nuts and seeds, the Heart Foundation said.