Researchers at San Diego State University in the US recruited 31 participants, all of whom were asked to drink a single daily serving of either regular dark chocolate, dark chocolate that had been overheated or white chocolate for 15 days.
They found that people who drank dark chocolate containing 70 per cent cocoa tended to have lower blood glucose and lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or 'bad cholesterol') than those who had white chocolate, which contains no cocoa.
Dark chocolate drinkers also tended to have higher levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or 'good cholesterol').
The researchers, who presented their findings at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting yesterday (April 24th), believe dark chocolate could provide a useful way to reduce cardiovascular risk, particularly as it is such a popular product.
They observed: "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 50 grams a day."
Victoria Taylor, an expert at the British Heart Foundation, recently advised people to be cautious about the benefits of chocolate, as it is also high in calories because of its fat and sugar content.