Cocoa shown to lower blood pressure16 August 2012
Flavanols found in cocoa have been associated with blood pressure lowering properties due to their stimulation of nitric oxide dependent vasodilation.
That’s the conclusion of a review by The Cochrane Collaboration which assessed the effect of cocoa products on blood pressure in adults when consumed daily for a minimum of two weeks.
Meta-analysis of 20 studies involving 856 mainly healthy participants revealed a small but statistically significant blood pressure reducing effect of -2.8 mm Hg systolic and -2.2 mm Hg diastolic.
The small reduction in blood pressure of about 2-3 mm Hg observed in the pooled trials overall might complement other treatment options, said the researchers, and might contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
However, they noted that they were unable to identify any randomised, controlled trials that tested the effect of long-term daily ingestion of cocoa products on blood pressure and there were no trials that measured an effect on clinical outcomes related to high blood pressure such as heart attacks or strokes.
More trials in which the intake of low flavanol dosages are compared with flavanol-free controls are required, the analysis concluded, to test whether low dosages are effective in reducing blood pressure.
In addition, longer term trials are needed to elucidate whether regular consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa products has a beneficial effect on blood pressure and cardiovascular health over time, and whether there are any potential adverse effects of long-term ingestion of cocoa products on a daily basis.
The Cochrane Collaboration is an international network of more than 28,000 dedicated people from over 100 countries working to help healthcare providers, policy-makers, patients, their advocates and carers, make well-informed decisions about health care.
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