Results of a comprehensive new meta-analysis confirm the results of earlier studies that suggest the moderate consumption of dark chocolate may help hypertensive patients naturally lower their blood pressure.
The research, conducted by a team of investigators from the University of Adelaide in Australia, pooled together the findings of 15 separate studies that looked into the health benefits associated with flavanols, the main compounds found in dark chocolate and other cocoa products.
After combining the results of the respective trials, lead author Karin Ried and her colleagues found that hypertensive individuals who consumed small amounts of dark chocolate—while maintaining a healthy caloric intake—were able to lower their blood pressure by as much as 5 percent.
"Flavanols have been shown to increase the formation of endothelial nitric oxide, which promotes vasodilation and consequently may lower blood pressure," said Ried.
"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," she added.
In terms of blood pressure reduction, eating small amounts of dark chocolate is comparable to 30 minutes of physical activity, according to the researchers.
However, Ried warns that effectiveness of dark chocolate as a long-term treatment option for high blood pressure has still yet to be confirmed.