Dark Chocolate and Cardiovascular Disease
Source: Nutr J. 2015 Aug 22
A Finnish study documented the relationship between the ingestion of dark chocolate and the circulatory system, blood pressure, and arterial stiffness. Earlier studies had discovered that chocolate consumption had significant effects on those systems, but only with large amounts of chocolate over a short time; this study looked at “more reasonable” doses (49 grams per day, about the size of a standard candy bar) over longer periods.
Cocoa is rich in polyphenol flavonoids, plant-derived compounds that have been shown to significantly decrease cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. Chocolate contains even more flavonoids per serving than tea or red wine. Studies have shown that cocoa products can lower CVD risk factors and mortality, promote healthier blood pressure, increase insulin sensitivity, and help keep the walls of blood vessels supple, reducing arterial stiffness.
In this study, a group of otherwise healthy adults with mild hypertension substituted dark chocolate for their usual snack foods. Their diet, physical activities, and medications were monitored. After analysis, the study found that the participants’ overall blood pressure decreased significantly. Fifty-five percent of the participants saw their blood pressure return from high to normal.