Maybe all of those broken-hearted lovers were right: binging on some high-quality cocoa chocolate is good for the soul AND the body.
According to a new study published in Frontiers in Nutrition, consuming flavanol-rich cocoa could help lower blood pressure and reduce arterial stiffness. Flavanols — a subgroup of flavonoids — are a plant-based compound found in common foods and beverages like tea, blueberries, red wine, and cocoa.
Most importantly, though, the study showed no signs of unnecessarily lowering blood pressure for healthy individuals, meaning it acts more like a natural medicine than a drug.
Currently, the medical industry prescribes blood pressure medication for individuals with chronic issues, which is commonly known as hypertension in many patients. Then, doctors must carefully monitor its effects over the course of treatment. But if some sort of natural remedy existed that could lower blood pressure (in other words, help patients’ veins relax and let blood flow more easily) but also leave the body alone during times of less stress — that would be an incredible advancement in medical science.
As usual, the best preventative medicine is often just a balanced diet and a focus on mental health. But don’t lament the medical business for treating your symptoms with powerful chemicals; health is the individual’s responsibility, and education is always the top remedy.
If cocoa can reliably treat high blood pressure, then many patients could theoretically get off of prescription drugs
Christian Heiss, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Surrey, said of the findings:
“High blood pressure and arterial stiffness increases a person’s risk of heart disease and strokes, so it is crucial that we investigate innovative ways to treat such conditions.
“Before we even consider introducing cocoa into clinical practices, we need to test if the results previously reported in laboratory settings safely translate into real-world settings, with people going about their everyday lives.”
For several days, eleven healthy participants consumed, on alternating days, either six cocoa flavanol capsules or six placebo capsules containing brown sugar. Participants were provided with an upper arm monitor and a finger clip measuring pulse wave velocity (PWV) which gauges levels of arterial stiffness.
Professor Heiss added that he’s optimistic about the future of this natural remedy in clinical settings.
“The positive impact cocoa flavanols have on our cardiovascular system, in particular, blood vessel function and blood pressure, is undeniable. Doctors often fear that some blood pressure tablets can decrease the blood pressure too much on some days.
“What we have found indicates that cocoa flavanols only decrease blood pressure if it is elevated. Working with participants’ personal health technologies showed us how variable blood pressure and arterial stiffness can be from day to day and shows the role of personal health monitors in developing and implementing effective personalized care.”