According to a recent Swedish study that looked at stroke risk in men, the group that ate the most chocolate (of all types - not just dark chocolate!) was 19% less likely to suffer a stroke than the group that consumed the least. Perhaps this benefit is related to the flavonoids in chocolate? Flavonoids certainly seem to provide some degree of cardioprotection as they are antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory actions and provide a degree of anticlotting. It's also possible that these products may decrease concentrations of bad cholesterol.
Another Cochrane Collaboration meta-analysis suggests that chocolate and cocoa products may reduce blood pressure slightly. The results showed that patients who ate 105g of cocoa products each day had reduced systolic blood pressure of about 3mm of mercury and reduced diastolic by >2mm of mercury.
This new evidence seems to give the green light to eat plenty of chocolate over the Yuletide, but as the authors of the Swedish study point out - chocolate is high in sugar, fat and calories so should only be consumed in moderation...
But, it's almost Xmas - and I'm off to eat some chocolate now...Happy Christmas everyone!