Dark chocolate may reduce blood pressure
A recent study finds that eating dark chocolate or cocoa powder each day can reduce blood pressure in the short term and help protect against cardiovascular disease.
A review of research, issued in the Cochrane Library, revealed that people who eat dark chocolate may experience slight reduction in their blood pressure.
The Cochrane Group researchers assessed 20 different studies that lasted between two to eight weeks and included 865 people eating between 30-1080 milligrams of flavanols found in 3 to 100 grams of chocolate.
The researchers then found that eating flavanol-containing chocolate or cocoa powder resulted in a 2 to 3 mmHg (millimetres of mercury) reduction in blood pressure, meaning that a blood pressure of 120/80 decreased to 118/78.
The study said that flavanols produce a chemical in the body known as nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels and decreases the blood pressure.
"Although we don't yet have evidence for any sustained decrease in blood pressure, the small reduction we saw over the short term might complement other treatment options and might contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease,” study author Dr Karin Ried said.
"Moderate regular dosages of flavanol-rich cocoa products such as dark chocolate may be part of a comprehensive lifestyle plan to optimizing blood pressure," Ried added.
High blood pressure is linked to 54 percent of strokes across the world and 47 percent of coronary heart disease cases. However, the researchers also stressed that chocolate cannot replace blood pressure medicines and even suggested using healthier ways to reduce blood pressure.
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