Chocolate consumption has been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease by one third. Researchers at Cambridge University, England reported their finding in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress in Paris.

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 strokes. They analyzed the results of seven studies, which had involved more than 100,000 people with and without existing heart disease.

Yearly 600,000 people died of heart disease. Heart disease caused 26% of deaths—more than one in every four—in the United States and is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

Chocolate has been found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which have a positive impact on human health. Including regulation of insulin sensitivity and controlling hypertension.

Dr. Franco and team conducted a review of scientific studies to determine if eating chocolate has beneficial impact on cardiovascular events such as heart attack and strokes.

Analyzing data of pervious seven studies of 100,000 participants; some of them with existing heart problems. They compared the highest chocolate consumers with the lowest in each study, in order to minimize bias, and they took into account of variations in the design and quality of each previous result.

Five studies reported a beneficial link between higher levels of chocolate consumption and the risk of cardiovascular events.

Participants who ate the most chocolate had a 37 percent lower risk of having a cardiovascular event compared to those who ate the least.

Higher consumers of chocolate also had 29 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those who ate the least.

The researchers pointed out that chocolate consumption should be taken with caution; commercially available chocolate has high calories which can lead to weight gain and increase risk of developing heart disease and type II diabetes.

Researchers are now looking into whether other factors could explain the positive effects.