People who eat a diet enriched with powerful antioxidants not only lower their risk of developing heart disease but can slash their cholesterol and even get diabetes under control, suggest experts.
The secret lies in a regular dose of potent, health-giving foods rich in antioxidants called flavonoids.
They are found in abundance in plant-based foods, with onions, apples, berries, kale, and broccoli having highest concentrations.
They are also found in high amounts in tea, berries, chocolate and even red wine.
They work by fighting harmful molecules accumulating in the body that damage healthy cells.
A 12-month trial carried out by scientists at the University of East Anglia found that diets high in these flavonoids could reduce the risk of heart disease for women with Type 2 diabetes.
The new study also found that regularly eating flavonoid-rich foods could also help in the management of diabetes.
The study looked at 93 postmenopausal women with Type 2 diabetes from the age of 51 to 74. Half were given two small bars of flavonoid-enriched chocolate each day and half were given placebo chocolate bars.
Those receiving extra flavonoids reduced the risk of a heart attack by 3.4 per cent.
Their insulin resistance and cholesterol levels were significantly reduced by the flavonoids.
"These results are significant because they provide further concrete evidence that diet has a beneficial clinical effect over and above conventional drug treatment," a daily quoted Professor Aedin Cassidy, of Norwich Medical School, as saying.
The researchers say further research is needed to examine if similar effects are seen in men with Type 2 diabetes.
The findings have been published in the journal Diabetes Care.