New research shows that people who eat dark chocolate or cocoa for short periods of time may lower their blood pressure. If you complement dark chocolate with other ways to stay healthy (exercising regularly, eating right, and continuing to take medication if you are on it), you may see a slight drop in blood pressure.
From Melbourne, Australia, scientists looked at 20 different studies in which a total of approximately 850 adults ate dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate is high in cocoa, which makes it high in flavanols, a type of antioxidant. Antioxidants lower blood pressure by opening up your blood vessels.
People that ate dark chocolate had blood pressure readings that were 2 millimeters of mercury lower than those who did not eat any. This means that a blood pressure of 120/80 would lower to 118/78. Although this seems like a small decrease, this shows that chocolate can help in lowering blood pressure.
Remember to eat chocolate in moderation. Chocolate is high in fat, calories, and sugar, and having too much will add many calories to your daily diet. Rachel K. Johnson, spokesperson American Heart Association, offers advice on how to control the amount of chocolate consumption.
“To control the calories, opt for chocolate with a high cocoa content – look for one 70% or higher. It’s intensely flavored, and a small amount may satisfy you,” she says. “If you make hot chocolate, choose natural cocoa powder rather than alkalized cocoa powder (Dutch-processed). The natural cocoa powder has more beneficial flavanols.”
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