A new study has revealed that eating huge amounts of chocolate could actually lower blood pressure - and is even better than some prescription medicine.
The research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that a chemical found in cocoa called flavanols is crucial in the fight against high blood pressure, which affects around one in four adults.
‘People can decrease their blood pressure by having a daily intake of flavanols,’ study leader Dr Ana Rodriguez Mateo of King’s College London revealed.
The study saw 45 healthy German men aged between 18 to 35 divided into three groups, with one taking high doses of flavanols, one taking low doses of flavanols and the last taking a dummy pills.
‘Those taking the high dose of cocoa flavonols had an average six-point drop in blood pressure,’ Dr Rodriguez Mateo revealed. ‘We have done a number of studies and the evidence is stronger for people who already have high blood pressure, but we need more clinical data to be sure.
‘We haven’t got trials studying people over many years but we would assume that short term results would be the same over a number of years.’
But before you start cracking open the Cadbury’s and downing it in record amounts, you might want to read this. Dr Rodriguez Mateo warns it’s not a licence for chocoholics to go wild given that the amounts you’d need to eat to lower your blood pressure would cause other health problems, due to the high sugar and fat intake.
‘You would have to eat huge quantities of chocolate to get this level of flavanols, and even if you tried you would be cancelling out any benefit by eating vast amounts of extra fat and sugar at the same time,’ she said.
Instead the research group are looking at giving those with high blood pressure cocoa Flavanols supplements to improve their health - and some believe it could be more effective than some prescription medication.
‘We have been working in this area for many years,’ Dr Miriam Ferrer, spokeswoman for Cambridge Nutraceuticals which produces a cocoa flavanol supplement told Metro.
‘The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has acknowledged that our product, Blood Flow+, helps maintain the elasticity of blood vessels. This improves blood flow and reduces blood pressure.
‘This new study supports EFSA’s conclusions about cocoa flavonols. It also confirms the findings of other leading research institutes around the world.’