"One of the major strengths of the study was they were measuring adhesion molecules, which we have recently learned are very important in the formation of atherosclerosis," said Shelley McGuire, spokeswoman for the American Society for Nutrition.
"Another strength is that the study was randomized and controlled. Because of this, we can pretty confidently say there was something in the cocoa powder that had an effect," she said.
Previous research has suggested that chocolate may be good for heart health because it contains polyphenols, anti-inflammatory chemicals also found in wine, coffee and tea, and fruits and vegetables.
The study was published in the November issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.