European regulators found that flavanols extracted from cocoa help tackle cholesterol levels and blood flow and approved it as medicinal food last month.
But to get an effective dose a person would have to gorge on 400g of dark chocolate, containing a whopping 2,429 calories – or 329 per cent of a person’s daily allowance of fat.
Now a health supplement that has the anti-oxidant nutrient in its purest form condensed into a pill has hit the shelves in Britain.
Blood Flow+ is the first ever chocolate pill in the UK and is aimed at those suffering from heart problems.
Research by the Royal Society of Chemistry proved that flavanols assist production of nitric oxide which in turn trigger the arterial wall muscles to relax.
The findings have convinced the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to push ahead with awarding Blood Flow+, marketed by FutureYou Health, a coveted seal of approval for a product health claim supported by new science.
Dr Alf Lindberg, advisor of Cambridge Nutraceuticals, a research company, said: “We believe this is the way forward.
“New analysis is showing there are powerful compounds in many natural nutrients that could help maintain the health of everyone.
“We support the huge amount of research has gone into Blood Flow+ and we are delighted that it is the first cocoa flavanol product officially allowed to claim it benefits heart health.
“Maintaining the elasticity of blood vessels is very important.
“Even slightly elevated blood pressure in midlife is linked to increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and dementia.
“Increased blood pressure in middle age is in part due to increased vascular stiffness and current blood pressure treatments are not very effective at reversing or preventing vascular stiffness.
“Cocoa flavanols and some other dietary polyphenols likely confer benefits that current antihypertensives do not.”
Each year 17.5 million people die from cardiovascular diseases, 31 percent of all deaths globally.
US government scientists are also currently studying the benefits of cocoa flavanols, which is believed to improve blood vessel elasticity by 23 per cent.
A five-year programme tracking the health of 18,000 people aged over 60 is being conducted by Mars Symboscience.
Catherin Kwik-Uribe, the company’s global research director, said: “We are now primarily investigating the cardiovascular effects of flavanols in an older population of men and women, but the results will not be available until 2020.”
Ian Macdonald, professor of metabolic physiology at Nottingham University, is one of Britain’s leading cocoa flavanol experts.
He warned that eating dark chocolate would not provide the same intake.
Professor Macdonald added: “You have to mask the taste of pure cocoa because it is so bitter it’s unbearable,”