Dark Chocolate May Help Lower Blood Pressure

Posted on July 22, 2005

Reuters reports that an American Heart Association study has found that dark chocolate may help the heart. It is nice to have a study that indicates something that tastes good may also have health benefits. They study, which Reuters said has been backed up by other research on dark chocolate, found that dark chocolate contains flavonoids which are thought to help blood vessels work more smoothly.

"Previous studies suggest flavonoid-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, tea, red wine and chocolate, might offer cardiovascular benefits, but this is one of the first clinical trials to look specifically at dark chocolate's effect on lowering blood pressure among people with hypertension," said Jeffrey Blumberg of Tufts University in Boston, who led the study.

"This study is not about eating more chocolate," Blumberg added. "It suggests that cocoa flavonoids appear to have benefits on vascular function and glucose sensitivity."

Unfortunately, the health benefits are found primarily in the dark chocolate. Milk chocolate, which is the kind of chocolate found in most candy and other sweets, has much less of the flavonoids and white chocolate contains no flavonoids.
Writing in the journal Hypertension, Blumberg's team said when the volunteers ate the special dark chocolate, they had a 12 mm Hg decrease in systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) and a 9 mm Hg decrease in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) on average.

Blood pressure did not change when the volunteers ate white chocolate.

You must eat dark chocolate not milk chocolate if you want to see the possible health benefits from chocolate. Dark chocolate is not as sweet but people can get used to it and really start to enjoy it.

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