Scientists are to investigate whether eating chocolate can reduce the risk of heart disease in women with diabetes.
Volunteers – postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes – will be asked to eat a bar of chocolate a day for a year.
Cocoa is rich in compounds called flavonoids, which are thought to benefit the heart.
The University of East Anglia is using a specially formulated form of chocolate which contains more flavonoids than usual. The scientists are testing the theory that adding flavonoids to the diet may give added protection against heart disease on top of that provided by prescription drugs.
Deaths due to heart disease among women increase rapidly after the menopause and having type 2 diabetes increases this risk by a further three-and-a-half times.
If the trial confirms the hypothesis then it could have a far-reaching impact on the advice given to at-risk women.