London: Here is good news for chocoholics -- a bar of the sweet treat is actually good for your health, a new study has found.
The study by researchers at the University of Cambridge found that regular consumption of chocolate may slash the risk of developing heart disease by a third.
The finding backs up the results of earlier studies that generally agree on a potential positive link between eating chocolate and heart health, the Daily Mail reported.
For their study, Dr Oscar Franco and Cambridge colleagues carried out a large scale review of the existing evidence to see the effects of eating chocolate on heart attacks and
They analysed the results of seven studies, which had involved more than 100,000 people with and without existing heart disease.
For each study, they compared the group with the highest chocolate consumption against the group with the lowest.
Differences in study design and quality were also taken into account to minimise bias.
Five studies reported a beneficial link between higher levels of chocolate consumption and the risk of cardiovascular events.
They found that the "highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37 per cent reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29 per cent reduction in stroke compared with lowest levels".
However, no significant reduction was found in relation to heart failure, the researchers reported in the British Medical Journal.
The studies, they said, did not differentiate between dark or milk chocolate and included consumption of chocolate bars, drinks, biscuits and desserts.
But despite the findings, the researchers said chocolates should be taken "with caution" and people should be careful which chocolate they chose to eat.
This is because commercially available chocolates are high in calories -- around 500 calories for every 100 grams --and eating too much of it could lead to weight gain and put
eaters at risk of diabetes and heart disease, they said.
The researchers will now look at whether other factors could explain the positive effects.