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Dark Chocolate & Blood Pressure

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does-dark-chocolate-lower-blood-pressureChocolate Lovers Can Feel a Bit Less Guilty When Indulging. 

It’s almost like a dream come true: chocolate may be good for you. Dark chocolate, that is, as new research shows that lowering blood pressure may be one of the health benefits of dark chocolate. However, those asking “does dark chocolate lower blood pressure?” should not get too excited too quickly. Dark chocolate is only good for you with exercise and a proper diet.

Dark Chocolate Study

New research on dark chocolate health benefits shows that those who snacked on dark chocolate for a short amount of time saw a slight drop in blood pressure. Although, you still have to exercise, eat healthy and take blood pressure medication if necessary.

More than 850 people participated in the study to see if eating dark chocolate could lower blood pressure. The study was conducted by Melbourne, Australia scientists who wanted to see how dark chocolate or cocoa affected heart health. The trials typically ran from two to eight weeks. Participants ate different amounts of dark chocolate, ranging from a small bite to a large bar.

Dark chocolate may lower blood pressure because cocoa contains antioxidants called flavanols. Antioxidants help open up the blood vessels, reducing blood pressure. All of the chocolate in this study was high in cocoa.

Dark Chocolate/Blood Pressure Study Results

The results published in the Cochrane Library show that chocolate is definitely no replacement for blood pressure medication, though it may be one of the ways to lower blood pressure slightly. Those who ate dark chocolate saw 2 millimeters less of mercury in their blood pressure readings than those who ate little or no chocolate. This would bring a 120/80 reading to a 118/78.

The author of the study, Dr. Karien Reid, wrote that moderate use of cocoa products that are rich in flavanol, like dark chocolate, can become a part of a lifestyle to optimize blood pressure. However, as for long-term results, experts aren’t sure.

An editor at the Cochrane Hypertension Group, Dr. Lorri Puil, said that, since high blood pressure is a chronic condition, they don’t know if the health benefits of dark chocolate include helping in reducing heart attack, stroke and other consequences of high blood pressure.

How Often Should You Eat Dark Chocolate?

So, is dark chocolate good for you? Sure! But, chocolate includes high amounts of calories, sugar and fat. You could try substituting it for other, less healthy desserts that you already eat. Eating too much chocolate can pack on the pounds, which isn’t good for your health either. So, eat it in moderation, along with exercise and eating right.

If you opt for the dark chocolate health benefits, look for chocolate with 70 percent cocoa content or higher. Not only is it healthier, but it also has an intense flavor that may satisfy cravings. Those looking for antioxidants in other sources can turn to apples, green tea, blueberries and a variety of other healthy choices.

Even after this study, researchers agree that more studies are needed on the pros and cons of dark chocolate before more conclusions can be made.

But, at least it takes away the guilt from the occasional indulgence!  

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