The risk of heart attack and stroke was dropped by half in those who ate it

According to the research carried out at the National Institute of Integrative Medicine, Australia, a daily dose of dark chocolate could lower blood pressure.

Chocolates are packed with compounds: flavanols, epicatechin, catechin and procyanidins, which are extracted from cocoa beans. They are responsible for the formation of nitric acid in the body, which relaxes the blood vessel walls and lowers blood pressure.

High blood pressure is a key risk factor for heart disease, contributing to about 47% of heart attacks and 54% of strokes worldwide.

In a study carried out on 856 participants, 429 consumed between 3 and 100 g of cocoa or dark chocolate daily, equal to about 30 to 1,080 mg of flavanols, while the other 427 participants were in control groups eating low- or no-flavanol cocoa products.

Overall, people who ate chocolate and cocoa high in flavanols lowered their blood pressure by an average of 2 to 3 mm/Hg, while those eating lots of flavanols had a 3 to 4 mm/Hg reduction in blood pressure.

“Our?results contribute to the evidence that dietary flavanoids?found in cocoa, green tea, berries and red wine can play a role in cardiovascular risk factor reduction, as part of a comprehensive lifestyle approach including regular exercise, healthy weight, and a balanced diet,” said Dr. Karin Ried.

“The reduction in blood pressure achieved with cocoa is somewhat comparable to other lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise, and may serve as complementary treatment option.”

The study also noted that dark chocolate contains more cocoa and, therefore, more flavanols?than milk chocolate which is packed with a lot more sugar and fat.

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