It has been known for some time that dark chocolate is the “healthy” chocolate, but a new perk from eating it has just been discovered: If you eat dark chocolate, blood pressure drops some — at least for a little while.
Cocoa and dark chocolate are rich in compounds called flavanols, and a daily dose of either drops blood pressure for a short while, a new look at recent research suggests. According to MSNBC, data was pulled from 20 studies over the last decade by researchers who found that people who ate cocoa products rich with these flavanols each day for a couple weeks saw a two to three point drop in blood pressure. Of course, that’s not quite the result you’d get from taking blood pressure medication, but it’s about what you might expect from a change in diet or exercise routine.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can just eat dark chocolate instead of exercising, notes Dr. Elizabeth Jackson of the University of Michigan Health Systems:
“If I had to choose between cocoa and exercise, I would take the exercise,” said Jackson, who was not involved in the new study. “To me this says a little bit of dark chocolate isn’t too bad, but you wouldn’t want to go overboard with the calories and eat a pound of chocolate,” she said.
Another perk to eating dark chocolate for the elderly: Eating a little bit every day may improve thinking abilities in those with cognitive impairment, and it’s all thanks to those flavanols again. Researchers found that the higher the concentration of flavanols in a dose of dark chocolate, the better subjects performed on cognitive function tests, reports Yahoo. Of course, researchers admit that the drop in blood pressure may have an affect on the improved thinking abilities rather than just the flavanols themselves:
“It is yet unclear whether these benefits in cognition are a direct consequence of cocoa flavanols or a secondary effect of general improvements in cardiovascular function,” said one researcher.
Suffering from high blood pressure? Dark chocolate is the answer. Don’t go overboard, though. Remember that nothing can replace better nutrition and exercise.