Half of all Americans have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, and many don’t even know they have it.
High blood pressure develops when blood flows through your arteries at higher-than-normal pressures.
Your blood pressure is made up of two numbers: systolic and diastolic. Systolic pressure is the pressure when the ventricles pump blood out of the heart.
Diastolic pressure is the pressure between heartbeats when the heart is filling with blood.
Cocoa is a big dietary source of polyphenols, including flavanols, which have been associated with reduced blood pressure.
While earlier reviews have shown strong effects of cocoa intake on systolic blood pressure, these studies had small sample sizes and the research methods were different.
In the current study, researchers aimed to examine the effects of ≥2 weeks of cocoa intake as a beverage or dark chocolate in people with normal or elevated (≥130 mmHg) systolic blood pressure. They reviewed 31 suitable studies published by 2021.
Researchers found that cocoa intake for ≥2 weeks was linked to reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Compared with cocoa, chocolate lowered the resting systolic blood pressure (-3.94 mmHg) more than cocoa beverages (-1.54 mmHg).
The team also found when the daily dose of flavanols was ≥900 mg or of epicatechin ≥100 mg, the effect was greater.
Based on the findings, they suggest that cocoa beverages and dark chocolate may help reduce blood pressure in people with normal or elevated blood pressure.
In the future, more d studies are needed to determine the best dose for a clinically meaningful effect on the reduction of blood pressure.
The research was published in Foods and conducted by Isaac Amoah et al.
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