SYDNEY – Dark chocolate has ‘significant’ benefits for high-risk cardiac patients and could prevent heart attacks and strokes, Australian researchers say.

Eating 100g of chocolate with a 70 per cent or higher cocoa content every day was an effective risk reduction measure, according to a study by Melbourne’s Monash University

Lead researcher Ella Zomer said 70 fatal and 15 non-fatal cardiovascular events per 10,000 people could be prevented.

‘Our findings indicate dark chocolate therapy could provide an alternative to or be used to complement drug therapeutics in people at high risk of cardiovascular disease,’ Ms Zomer said of the study published in the British Medical Journal.

Her research partner, Professor Chris Reid, said measurements from the 2,013 Australians studied, all of whom had classic risk factors such as high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol or body weight, were run through epidemiological modelling.

The projections of likely deaths and other non- fatal events between those who consumed dark chocolate and those who did not were compared and there was a notable difference.

High-cocoa chocolate is beneficial because it contains antioxidant chemicals called polyphenols which help keep blood vessels dilated, thereby reducing blood pressure and improving blood flow. However, experts caution that excessive consumption of dark chocolate leads to obesity, itself a cause of cardiovascular disease.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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