Confectionary giant Mars will today reveal research showing that cocoa compounds can help treat diabetes, strokes and vascular diseases.

Mars will tell a group of scientists in Switzerland that it has discovered how to replicate the compounds, known as flavanols.

Mars also said that it is in discussions with pharmaceutical companies about licensing the development of the compounds.

Norm Holenberg, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said: “This is a scientific breakthrough that could well lead to a medical breakthrough.”