An occasional chocolate treat can help prevent heart failure in older women, research suggests. One or two servings of good-quality chocolate a week reduced the risk of middle-aged and elderly women developing the condition by almost a third, a study found.
Scientists studied almost 32,000 Swedish women aged 48 to 83.
Moderate chocolate consumption significantly reduced heart failure risk, but the protective effect lessened as more or less was eaten.
One or two 19g to 30g servings a week led to a 32 per cent risk reduction. This fell to 26 per cent when one to three servings a month were eaten, while one serving a day or more showed no benefit.
A typical chocolate bar weighs around 100 grams, but the amount of healthy cocoa solids it contains varies greatly.
Antioxidant plant compounds called flavonoids in cocoa are believed to protect against heart disease and high blood pressure.
The lack of benefit from eating chocolate every day was probably due to the extra number of calories consumed, said the researchers.