For people with hypertension, eating dark chocolate can significantly reduce blood pressure. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Medicine combined the results of 15 studies into the effects of flavanols, the compounds in chocolate which cause dilation of blood vessels, on blood pressure.
Dr Karin Ried worked with a team of researchers from the University of Adelaide, Australia, to conduct the analysis. She said, “Flavanols have been shown to increase the formation of endothelial nitric oxide, which promotes vasodilation and consequently may lower blood pressure. There have, however, been conflicting results as to the real-life effects of eating chocolate. We’ve found that consumption can significantly, albeit modestly, reduce blood pressure for people with high blood pressure but not for people with normal blood pressure”.
The pressure reduction seen in the combined results for people with hypertension, 5mm Hg systolic, may be clinically relevant — it is comparable to the known effects of 30 daily minutes of physical activity (4-9mm Hg) and could theoretically reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event by about 20% over five years. The researchers are cautious, however, “The practicability of chocolate or cocoa drinks as long-term treatment is questionable”, said Dr Ried.
Notes to Editors
1. Does chocolate reduce blood pressure? A meta-analysis
Karin Ried, Thomas Sullivan, Peter Fakler, Oliver R Frank and Nigel P Stocks
BMC Medicine 2010, 8:39 doi:10.1186/1741-7015-8-39
Article available at the journal website: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/8/39/
Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central’s open access policy.
2. BMC Medicine – the flagship medical journal of the BMC series – publishes original research articles, commentaries and reviews in all areas of medical science and clinical practice. To be appropriate for BMC Medicine, articles need to be of outstanding quality, broad interest and special importance. BMC Medicine (ISSN 1741-7015) is indexed/tracked/covered by PubMed, MEDLINE, BIOSIS, CAS, EMBASE, Scopus, Current Contents, Thomson Reuters (ISI) and Google Scholar.
3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.