Eating a piece of dark chocolate a day could help lower blood pressure, new research has found.
Just 30 calories, or 6g, of the treat taken daily reduces blood pressure without weight gain or any adverse effects, according to the results of a trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association today.
The 18-week trial, conducted by researchers at the University Hospital of Cologne, Germany, led by Dr Dirk Taubert, saw 44 patients aged between 56 and 73 given 6.3g a day of either dark chocolate or white chocolate.
All suffered untreated upper-range prehypertension (blood pressure between 130/85 and 139/89) or stage 1 hypertension (BP between 140/90 and 160/100).
Researchers found those given dark chocolate had a slight reduction in their average blood pressure, without changes in body weight or lipid (cholesterol) levels. In addition the prevalence of hypertension declined from 86 per cent to 68 per cent.
Food containing cocoa
There was no change in those given white chocolate.
Previous research has indicated that eating large amounts of foods containing cocoa can lower blood pressure.
It is believed this is due to the action of cocoa polyphenols (chemical substances found in cocoa which are thought to have health benefits).
But the effects of regular low amounts of cocoa on blood pressure was unknown.
The study’s authors said: ‘Although the magnitude of the BP reduction was small, the effects are clinically noteworthy.’
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