Rejoice chocolate lovers, you can have that extra piece – but make sure it’s of the dark kind. A new study from Sweden has found that dark chocolate could control one’s high blood pressure levels and thus keep one's heart in good shape.

Dark chocolate is already known to contain high levels of antioxidants, which are thought to be beneficial to health. Now, a team from Sweden has revealed that dark chocolate works on the body in the same way as blood pressure pills - in fact, researchers have discovered that it inhibits an enzyme that raises blood pressure.

Lead researcher Ingrid Persson at Linköping University said that the dark chocolate, which contains large amounts of cocoa, has high levels of compounds called catechins and procyanidines, both of which have been shown to affect blood pressure. She added that with other factors such as a balanced diet and not smoking, dark chocolate could be a good way to lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Milk chocolate contains too much sugar and not enough cocoa to offer the same health effects.

In their study, 10 men and six women had blood samples taken before and after eating 75 grams of dark chocolate - a large piece. Within three hours, the team saw a blood pressure enzyme known as ACE had been inhibited by up to 18 %. This is as effective as ACE inhibitor drugs currently given to the millions of patients with high blood pressure. Said Dr. Peterson: “We have previously shown that green tea inhibits the enzyme ACE, which is involved in the body’s fluid balance and blood pressure regulation.” Other studies have shown that dark chocolate may also reduce stress levels and boost mood. A bar of chocolate – the new Swedish study shows chocolate could be a sweet way to be released of hypertension.