MELBOURNE, June 1 (UPI) -- Dark chocolate lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, making it a cheap and tasty way to lower cardiovascular disease risk, Australian researchers say.
Professor Christopher Reid, Dr. Alice Owen, Dr. Dianna Magliano and Ella Zomer, a doctoral student at Monash University, and Danny Liew of the University of Melbourne predicted daily dark chocolate consumption could prevent 70 non-fatal and 15 fatal cardiovascular events per 10,000 people over a 10-year period.
Zomer said the study was the first to examine the long-term health benefits of flavanoids, found in dark chocolate and known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
"We've predicted significant health benefits of eating 100 grams or 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate every day over a 10-year period. That's about the equivalent of one premium-quality block containing a minimum 70 percent cocoa," Zomer said in a statement.
"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."
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, used a mathematical model to predict the long-term health effects and cost effectiveness of daily dark chocolate consumption in more than 2,000 people already at high risk of heart disease.
"We're not suggesting that the high-risk group use dark chocolate as their only preventative measure, but in combination with sensible choices, such as exercise," Zomer said.