18/10/2010 06:48 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Could Chocolate Help Keep Diabetics' Hearts Healthy?

There have been plenty of studies published during the last few years that praise the health benefits of eating dark chocolate. According to researchers it's good for your heart because it helps reduce blood pressure, thanks to the health-boosting antioxidants, or polyphenols, found in cocoa solids.

Flickr, Simon Goldenberg

But a new study from Hull University and published in the journal Diabetic Medicine claims chocolate can help reduce high cholesterol in diabetics. But wait a minute - don't diabetics have to avoid foods that are high in sugar and fat?

That's exactly the problem, say experts from Diabetes UK who claim the fat and sugar in chocolate counteracts any benefits it may have otherwise.

In tests, scientists gave chocolate bars to volunteers with type 2 diabetes. Some of the chocolate bars had added polyphenols, and some didn't. After 16 weeks the volunteers who had eaten the polyphenol-enriched chocolate experienced a drop in their total cholesterol and a rise in their 'good' cholesterol.

While the results and the study itself were small, the researchers believe eating chocolate with a high cocoa content could help keep diabetics' hearts healthy. But it's not an excuse to rush out and gorge on unlimited bars of Green & Blacks, whether or not you're diabetic. According to the researchers the amount of dark chocolate that will do the trick is the equivalent of just half a small bar a day.

There again, if experts believe it's the polyphenols in cocoa that have the heart-health benefits, couldn't some bright spark develop a way to add them to foods without the added sugar and fat? Or should we just enjoy chocolate and forget about the health benefits?

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