(NaturalNews) Cocoa, most commonly found highly concentrated in certain formulations of dark chocolate, has been on the radar of nutrition scientists for more than a decade. Catechins derived from this natural dietary source provide a cascade of benefits that have been found to promote heart health and lower the risk of developing dementia and diabetes. Cocoa consumption has been shown to flood the body with potent antioxidants that lower systemic inflammation at the genetic and cellular level.
Researchers publishing in The Cochrane Library journal have determined that compounds in cocoa may help to reduce blood pressure, a significant aid in lowering the risks associated with heart disease. Elevated blood pressure is a primary cause of cardiovascular disease, as it promotes the formation of micro-cracks in the delicate endothelial inner lining of blood vessels that the body attempts to repair by patching with a foamy plaque formulation. This emergency repair may help avert immediate damage from bleeding, but narrows arterial wall thickness to increase heart attack risk.
Cocoa flavanols enhance nitric oxide production to improve hypertension in adults
Any compound that can naturally lower blood pressure to any degree will provide significant relief from future cardiovascular disease risk. Scientists know that cocoa contains compounds called flavanols, thought to be responsible for the formation of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide causes blood vessel walls to relax and open wider, thereby reducing blood pressure.
To conduct this study, researchers reviewed data from trials in which people consumed dark chocolate or cocoa powder containing between 30 and 1,080 mg of flavanols in differing concentrations (3 to 100 grams) of chocolate each day. A total of 856 people were involved in 20 trials lasting between two to eight weeks. Depending on the cocoa concentration, the authors noted that blood pressure was lowered between two and three mm Hg.
Compared to a peer control group receiving no dietary cocoa, blood pressure was lowered between three and four mm Hg. The lead researcher, Dr. Karin Ried of the National Institute of Integrative Medicine in Melbourne, Australia concluded "the small reduction we saw over the short term might complement other treatment options and might contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease."
Scientists have found a number of natural compounds that lower blood pressure, including arginine, coenzyme Q10, fish oil, garlic, hawthorn and folic acid. Losing as little as 10 percent of body weight can also yield significant results, and when combined with a regiment of proven, natural compounds can help improve hypertension and lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
About the author: John Phillip is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and Health Researcher and Author who writes regularly on the cutting edge use of diet, lifestyle modifications and targeted supplementation to enhance and improve the quality and length of life. John is the author of 'Your Healthy Weight Loss Plan', a comprehensive EBook explaining how to use Diet, Exercise, Mind and Targeted Supplementation to achieve your weight loss goal. Visit My Optimal Health Resource to continue reading the latest health news updates, and to download your copy of 'Your Healthy Weight Loss Plan'.