Eating dark chocolate good for heart
Dark chocolate can reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke by up to 20 per cent. But the effect is only seen in people who already have high blood pressure.
Dark chocolate and cocoa products have attracted interest as an alternative treatment option for hypertension, a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Studies focusing on the association between chocolate and lower risk of blood pressure have yielded conflicting results. To analyse current evidence on the effect of flavanol-rich cocoa products on blood pressure in hypertensive and healthy individuals, researchers searched Medline, Cochrane and international trial registries between 1955 and 2009. These trials investigated the effect of cocoa as food or drink compared with placebo on blood pressure for a minimum duration of two weeks. Fifteen trial arms of 13 assessed studies met the inclusion criteria.
Nine trials used chocolate containing 50% to 70% cocoa compared with white chocolate or other cocoa-free controls, while six trials compared high- with low-flavanol cocoa products. Daily flavanol dosages ranged from 30 mg to 1000 mg in the active treatment groups, and interventions ran for 2 to 18 weeks.
After assessing the results of the studies, It was found that chocolate significantly decreased blood pressure in participants with hypertension. The benefits stem from chemicals called flanavols, which are present in high quantities in cocoa beans. The chemical stimulates the production of endothelial nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to dilate. The researchers concluded that eating food high in flanavols could have an effect on blood pressure equivalent to that produced by 30 minutes of exercise. But the study stopped short of recommending the replacement of hypertension drugs with a chocolate diet as t he sugar and fat found in the snacks could have a harmful effect on the heart.
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