- Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Dark chocolate and cocoa powder may help to slightly lower blood pressure, according to the findings of a new review.
Researchers looked at data from 20 trials in which more than 850 people regularly consumed dark chocolate or cocoa powder containing compounds called flavanols. The findings showed participants' blood pressure was slightly reduced – on average by 2-3 mmHG.
An adult’s blood pressure should be below 140/85mmHg. If you have heart or circulatory disease, including coronary heart disease, angina, heart attack or stroke, or have diabetes or kidney disease, then it is usually recommended that your blood pressure should be below 130/80mmHg.
Victoria Taylor, Senior Dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Although this review showed a small reduction in blood pressure, the findings are hampered by a lack of consistency between the studies. It’s difficult to tell exactly what sort of quantities of flavanol-rich cocoa would be needed to observe a beneficial effect and the best way for people to obtain it.
“With most of the studies carried out over a short period of time it’s also not possible to know for sure whether the benefits could be sustained in the long term. The 100g of chocolate that had to be consumed daily in a number of the studies would also come with 500 calories – that’s a quarter of a woman’s recommended daily intake.
“Beans, apricots, blackberries and apples also contain flavanols and, while containing lower amounts than in cocoa, they won’t come with the unhealthy extras found in chocolate.”
For more information about eating healthily, visit bhf.org.uk/healthyeating
The review was published in The Cochrane Library.
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