Dark Chocolate May Lower Blood Pressure

Scientists have proven already that dark chocolate has the same type of flavonoids and powerful antioxidant rich as red wine, green tea, and red fruits and vegetables. It is known that high levels of flavonoids contribute to good cardiovascular health and may lower the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.

But how about eating chocolate for lower blood pressure? A recent study published in published in The Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that small amounts of dark chocolate "efficiently reduced blood pressure," report the researchers of Germany’s University Hospital of Cologne.

Dark chocolate is one of the richest sources of polyphenols, for example, a standard 40g portion of dark chocolate contains 400-800 mg of polyphenols, compared to red wine (170 mg /100ml) or an apple (200 mg/piece). Cocoa polyphenols, most notably the catechins, can exist in both lipid and water-based environments (amphipathic), meaning they can spare both lipophilic and hydrophilic vitamins.

But overindulging in dark chocolate might blow your calorie budget, and packing on pounds could raise blood pressure. So portion control may help you have your dark chocolate and reap its health benefits, the study suggests. How small is a small amount of dark chocolate? Participants in the study were limited to 30 calories per day of dark chocolate. That’s roughly the number of calories in a Hershey’s Kiss.

The German research doesn’t show exactly how dark chocolate lowers blood pressure, but it notes that compounds called flavanols in cocoa may play a role.

The 24 women and 20 men study participants had mild high blood pressure (hypertension) or borderline blood pressure that fell just short of hypertension. They were otherwise healthy and weren’t taking blood pressure drugs or nutritional supplements.

To study possible differences, the study split participants into two similar groups- one group got 30-calorie daily doses of dark chocolate for 18 weeks and the other group got a similar daily dose of white chocolate, which doesn’t contain chocolate liquor or cocoa.

Both groups were requested to eat their chocolate dose two hours after dinner without changing normal diet and fitness habits as well as to keep a diet and exercise log.

The study found that those eating dark chocolate lowered their systolic blood pressure by nearly three points and their diastolic blood pressure by almost two points, on average.  Blood pressure was unchanged for better or worse in the white chocolate group.

Larger studies are needed and that they’re not sure whether the results apply to people with milder blood pressure or hypertension patients with other health problems. Other studies have also shown a link between dark chocolate or cocoa and better blood pressure. However, those studies typically involved bigger doses of chocolate or cocoa to get those benefits.




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