24 August 2012
Flavanol-rich cocoa products such as dark chocolate have been shown to reduce blood pressure, in a large review of scientific studies.
Flavanols are antioxidant compounds, found naturally in cocoa, cherries, apples, grapes and tea, which have been associated with blood pressure lowering due to their effect on nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessels.
A Cochrane Review of 20 studies, involving almost 900 people consuming 3-100g of dark chocolate or cocoa powder each day for 2-18 weeks, found a small but statistically significant reduction in blood pressure of 2-3mmHg.
Lead author Dr Karin Ried, research director at the National Institute of Integrative Medicine in Melbourne, said the reduction was comparable to other lifestyle modifications, and cocoa may serve as a complementary treatment option for high blood pressure.
Last Reviewed: 04 September 2012