Houston: A small amount of dark chocolate taken every day can lower the blood pressure, without piling on the pounds, a recent study that adds mounting evidence linking dark chocolate with health benefits has said.
The research which was carried out in Germany by a team of scientists at the University of Cologne also warn on the flip side that over-indulgence of chocolate, which is also high in fat and calories, may not be good news for the heart.
“Before you reach for the king-size bar, beware. The effects are cancelled out if more than 30 calories are consumed each day,” the researchers warn.
Food nutritionists have pointed that chocolates contain chemicals called polyphenols which are said to reduce blood pressure.
The study also shows that the fat content does not cancel out the beneficial effects - at least where small portions are concerned.
Blood pressure lowered in this way could reduce the risk of death from a stroke by 8%, from coronary artery disease by 5% and also reduce the risk of death generally by 4%.
A daily diet of a little chocolate had the same effect as more complicated diets designed to lower blood pressure, according to the authors of the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“Although the magnitude of the blood pressure reduction was small, the effects are clinically noteworthy,” they said.
Adoption of small amounts of flavanol-rich cocoa into the habitual diet is a dietary modification that is easy to adhere to, and therefore may be a promising behavioural approach to lower blood pressure in individuals with above-optimal blood pressure, they added.