Here’s a study from The Journal of the American Medical Association that shows that cocoa, or more specifically, the polyphenols in cocoa, has a positive effect on blood pressure. It points out several important facts:
- It doesn’t need to be a huge quantity of dark chocolate to have an effect
- The dark chocolate must be taken regularly
- It must be taken on an ongoing basis
The study was performed on a rather small population (44 individuals) with untreated prehypertension (120-139/80-89) or stage 1 hypertension (140-159/90-99) without any other risk factors. According to the study, the prevalence of hypertension decreased from 86% to 68%. The participants were given either 6.3 g of dark chocolate containing 30 mg of polyphenols or the same amount of white chocolate which contained no polyphenols for a period of 18 weeks.
The study also points out that blood nitric oxide levels increased in the test participants. Nitric oxide is what triggers the dilation of the blood vessels and reduces blood pressure.
Here’s the link to the abstract of the study:
In my opinion, the thing about eating chocolate as a “medicine” is that healthy individuals probably wouldn’t feel any different, even though the polyphenols would be of benefit. Individuals with cardiovascular disease could probably measure an improvement and may feel healthier.
I know that has been the case with me.