Dark chocolate is quickly becoming a superfood. Organic extra dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao) is packed with nutrition. There are so many reasons to eat dark chocolate.
It is important to eat the right kind of chocolate, as some are loaded with sugar or artificial ingredients. Dutched chocolate should be avoided, as it is treated with an alkalizing agent to modify its color. This gives it a milder taste, but destroys most of its healthy polyphenols.
New research shows that dark chocolate helps reduce blood pressure.
Compounds in cacao may reduce blood pressure, according the researchers. The team reviewed studies in which participants were given dark chocolate or cacao powder, and found that they had a decrease in blood pressure when compared to the control groups.
Chocolate contains compounds called flavanols, which are believed to aid in the production of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps open up blood vessels and relax them, therefore reducing blood pressure.
As written in the study press release:
“To investigate the effect of flavanols on blood pressure, the researchers reviewed data from trials in which people consumed dark chocolate or cocoa powder containing between 30-1080 mg of flavanols in 3-100 g of chocolate each day. Altogether, 856 people were involved in 20 trials lasting 2-8 weeks, or in one case, 18 weeks. Flavanol-rich chocolate or cocoa powder reduced blood pressure on average by 2-3 mm Hg.”
Lead researcher Karin Ried of the National Institute of Integrative Medicine in Melbourne, Australia notes that while the results were promising, there is not enough evidence yet to recommend chocolate for high 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,” she said.
The study showing that dark chocolate helps reduce blood pressure was published in the Cochrane Library.
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1. “Cocoa Compounds May Reduce Blood Pressure.” AlphaGalileo. Wiley, 14 Aug. 2012. Web. 15 Sept. 2015.
2. “Effect of Cocoa on Blood Pressure.” The Cochrane Library. Wiley Online Library, n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2015.