June 1/Melbourne, Australia/Christian Post -- A new study has found dark chocolate may play a significant role in reducing the risk of heart disease.

The team of researchers from Melbourne, Australia, used a mathematical model to predict the results of daily dark chocolate consumption. Published in the British Medical Journal, the study looked at 2,013 patients with metabolic syndrome, which puts them at high risk of heart disease.

Their work suggests that eating the special chocolate every day for 10 years could reduce heart problems in high-risk patients. About 70 non-fatal and 15 fatal cardiovascular events per 10,000 people could be avoided, the study revealed.

In other words, the patients who consumed 100g of bittersweet chocolate a day had fewer cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and stroke.

The study also revealed that the "dark chocolate prevention strategies" would cost an individual just $40 a year.

"For the first time, we have estimated the impact on clinical outcomes and a $40 per person, per year investment would yield a cost effective approach to cardiovascular disease prevention," said professor Chris Reid, lead author of the study, according to ABC News.

The professor of epidemiology and preventative medicine at Monash University in Australia noted that the benefits of dark chocolate are "substantial"

Dark chocolate provides a wealth of benefits including flavonoids, metabolites that have heart-protecting properties, as well as antioxidants. Additionally, the bittersweet treat is believed to aid in digestion and improve kidney, bowel functions and sexual performance.

Many people are skeptical of the study, including Kenneth Ong at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in the U.S.

"I suspect that consuming dark chocolate everyday for 10 years make have unintended adverse consequences," Ong pointed out to MSNBC. "The additional sugar and caloric intake may negatively impact patients in this study, who are overweight and glucose intolerant to begin with."

 From the June 4, 2012, Prepared Foods’ Daily Update