(NaturalNews) According to a new meta-analysis published last month in the BMC Medicine journal, dark chocolate may help to reduce blood pressure in those suffering from hypertension (1).
Compared to control groups, chocolate-eaters had an average reduction in systolic blood pressure of 5 mmHg, which is comparable to the blood pressure lowering effects of daily exercise.
Other Chocolate Benefits
The above meta-analysis adds weight to a growing body of evidence concerning the impressive benefits of chocolate consumption. Over the last few years, well-designed (randomized controlled) research has been emerging that gives ample reason for confidence in these conclusions (2).
In the above study, chocolate is specifically associated with lower blood pressure. But over the last several years, many researchers have come to believe that chocolate may have an even larger role to play in cardiovascular health in general (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).
- Inhibits the oxidation of LDL
- Improves endothelial cell function
- Inhibits platelet activation
- Reduces LDL
- Increases HDL
- Increases insulin sensitivity
- Reduces inflammatory proteins such as NF-kB
- Lowers blood pressure
Such effects are impressive and desirable, so does this mean that we should all run out and go nuts with the candy bars and chocolate cake? Of course not (but you knew that, didn't you?). When choosing chocolate for your health, reach for the extra dark variety. At least 70% dark is best, and the lower the sugar, the better. Cacao (the bean that chocolate comes from) contains potent antioxidant flavonoids, and actually has a higher ORAC score than other well-known antioxidant powerhouses, such as pomegranates, blueberries, and wine. But beware: Processing and roasting cacao can cause almost all of the beneficial flavonoids to be destroyed (9). It is best to eat raw cacao to attain the above benefits. Raw cacao nibs are widely available at health food stores and on the Internet. Sprinkle them on some berries with some raw nuts, cinnamon, and a splash of cream or almond milk. It is truly delicious, and your cardiovascular system will thank you.
David Rostollan holds a Bachelor of Science in Natural Health and a doctorate in Naturopathy. He currently works as a professional health and nutrition consultant. His primary interests include heart disease prevention, chronic illness support, and diet and lifestyle coaching. He can be reached through www.reforminghealth.com