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Health Team

Dark Chocolate Can Help Lower Blood Pressure

Posted July 3, 2007 2:22 p.m. EDT
Updated July 3, 2007 7:11 p.m. EDT

A new report suggests a special kind of chocolate may help bring blood pressure down.

According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, eating about a quarter of an ounce of dark chocolate daily could help to lower your systolic blood pressure by almost three units and your diastolic blood pressure by almost two units.

"We were indeed surprised that such a low amount of chocolate could efficiently reduce the blood pressure," said Dirk Taubert, of University Hospital of Cologne.

Researchers at University Hospital of Cologne studied 44 otherwise, healthy people with high blood pressure for 18 weeks. Half of the people got daily dark chocolate. Half got daily white chocolate. No one gained weight, but researchers said only the dark chocolate eaters saw their blood pressure come down a bit.

"Our study provides sufficient evidence to recommend low amounts of polyphenol-rich dark chocolate as an addition to a healthy diet," Taubert said.

Polyphenols are chemicals found in plants, including cocoa. Health experts said one way to tell if you are eating polyphenols is by the bitter taste.

"I would try this piece of chocolate a day, definitely," said Jens Chemnitz, who has high blood pressure.

The researchers said polyphenols in dark chocolate seem to increase the production of nitric oxide in the body, which causes the blood vessels to widen. However, people with high blood pressure should not replace their medications with chocolate.

Health experts suggest consulting with your physician about the best way to improve your blood pressure levels.