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Dark Chocolate Does Reduce Blood Pressure, Summary Study Data Shows

June 28, 2010: 02:23 PM EST
A summary of several decades of clinical studies that focused on dark chocolate and flavanol-rich cocoa products as a treatment for hypertension found that dark chocolate can significantly reduce blood pressure. The researchers looked at data from 15 studies that measured the impact of chocolate flavanol compounds, which cause dilation of blood vessels. Nine trials used chocolate containing 50 - 70 percent cocoa compared to white chocolate. Six trials compared high- with low-flavanol cocoa products. The blood pressure reduction of 5 mm Hg systolic is comparable to the known effects of 30 daily minutes of physical activity (4-9mm Hg) and could theoretically reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event by 20 percent over five years. However, "the practicability of chocolate or cocoa drinks as long-term treatment is questionable," one scientist said.
Karin Ried, Thomas Sullivan, Peter Fakler, Oliver R Frank and Nigel P Stocks, "Does chocolate reduce blood pressure? A meta-analysis", BMC Medicine, June 28, 2010, © Ried, et al.
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