IT is the news chocoholics have been waiting for - scientists have found that not only can chocolate be good for you, but it can also cure illnesses.
Research has suggested an ingredient in chocolate could be used to stop persistent coughs.
The findings may even lead to the development of more effective medicines - providing proof a spoonful of sugar really does help the medicine go down.
The research discovered that theobromine - a derivative found in cocoa - is almost a third more effective in stopping persistent coughs compared to codeine, which is currently considered the best cough medicine.
The discovery adds to weight to a growing body of evidence which suggests chocolate is not just a guilty pleasure for millions but can actually be beneficial for health.
Chocolate and its components are already thought to have cholesterol-lowering qualities, can help to lower blood pressure and even protect against life-threatening deep vein thrombosis.
Alan Porter, managing director of the Chocolate Society, said he rarely suffers with coughs himself, perhaps because of his love of chocolate.
He added, "I hope that doctors might recommend that theobromine is taken in the form of chocolate - rather than as a pill - in order that the patient might reap all the benefits and pleasures that come from eating chocolate as well as curing their cough."
The study, run by Imperial College London, the Royal Brompton Hospital and St Bartholomew's Hospital, involved 10 healthy volunteers who were given theobromine, codeine or a dummy pill.
To measure the effect of the different pill the researchers measured levels of capsaicin, which is used in research to cause coughing and is an indicator to test the effectiveness of medicines.
The team found that when the volunteers were given theobromine, the concentration of capsaicin needed to produce a cough was around a third higher when compared to the placebo group.
When they were given codeine they needed only marginally higher levels of capsaicin to cause a cough compared with the placebo.
Prof Peter Barnes, from Imperial College London and Royal Brompton Hospital, said, "Coughing is a medical condition which affects most people at some point in their lives, and yet no effective treatment exists.
"While persistent coughing is not necessarily harmful it can have a major impact on quality of life, and this discovery could be a huge step forward in treating this problem."
The researchers, writing in the online FASEB Journal, said that theobromine works by suppressing vagus nerve activity, which is responsible for causing coughing.
They also found that unlike standard cough treatments, theobromine caused no adverse effects on the cardiovascular or central nervous systems.
Professor Maria Belvisi, from Imperial College London and Royal Brompton Hospital, said, "Not only did theobromine prove more effective than codeine, at the doses used it was found to have none of the side effects.
"Normally the effectiveness of any treatment is limited by the dosage you can give someone.
"With theobromine having no demonstrated side effects in this study it may be possible to give far bigger doses, further increasing its effectiveness."