How good can dark chocolate be for high blood pressure? The flavanols found in dark chocolate stimulate the production of endothelial nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to dilate and potentially lower blood pressure. Past studies have reported conflicting results about the benefits of flavanols, but a new meta-analysis published in BMC Medicine examined the findings of 13 studies on the subject. The studies assessed met the criteria of measuring the effects of cocoa as a food or drink on systolic and diastolic blood pressure as compared to a placebo. The new study concluded that dark chocolate, but not milk or white chocolate, did reduce hypertension and prehypertension, equivalent to the effects produced by 30 minutes of exercise.
But that doesn’t mean we can all trade-in a workout for a candy bar. In other words, eating dark, flavanol-rich chocolate only helped to reduce blood pressure in individuals who had high blood pressure.
However, the results do not include individuals with normal blood pressure. Furthermore, it’s unclear if the results only indicate short-term benefits, or if any type of long-term treatment using chocolate could be successful. The fact that chocolate does contain high concentrations of fat and sugars remains unchanged, so overeating will lead to weight gain.
July 8th, 2010