New research found that people who ate dark chocolate or cocoa for short periods of time saw a slight drop in blood pressure. But there is a caveat: If you eat these treats, you need to make sure you’re doing all of the right things to stay healthy, such as exercising, eating right and – if you’re on blood pressure medicine – taking that as well.
Scientists in Melbourne, Australia, curious about the role of dark chocolate in heart health, looked at 20 studies in which adults ate dark chocolate or cocoa. More than 850 people participated in the trials that generally ran from two to eight weeks.
People ate different amounts of dark chocolate, ranging from a small piece to a large bar or a cup of cocoa, but almost all of the chocolate was high in cocoa – therefore high in antioxidants called flavanols. And that’s important because antioxidants play a role in opening up our blood vessels, which reduces blood pressure.
People who ate dark chocolate or cocoa had blood pressure readings that were 2 millimeters of mercury lower than those who ate little or no chocolate. This means that a blood pressure reading of 120/80, for example, dropped to 118/78. This is a small decrease, and scientists say that though chocolate will certainly not replace blood pressure medicines, it may play some role.