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Dark Chocolate Can Lower Blood Pressure

Published: 2010-06-28 - Updated: 2020-05-11
Author: BioMed Central | Contact:

Synopsis: For people with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, eating dark chocolate can significantly reduce their blood pressure readings. Flavanols have been shown to increase the formation of endothelial nitric oxide, which promotes vasodilation and consequently may lower blood pressure. Flavanols are bioactive compounds in certain plant-based foods like tea, cocoa, grapes, blueberries. Cocoa beans are rich in a sub-group of flavonoids known as cocoa flavanols.

Main Digest

For people with hypertension, eating dark chocolate can significantly reduce blood pressure.


Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Medicine combined the results of 15 studies into the effects of flavanols, the compounds in chocolate which cause dilation of blood vessels, on blood pressure.

Dr Karin Ried worked with a team of researchers from the University of Adelaide, Australia, to conduct the analysis. She said:

"Flavanols have been shown to increase the formation of endothelial nitric oxide, which promotes vasodilation and consequently may lower blood pressure. There have, however, been conflicting results as to the real-life effects of eating chocolate. We've found that consumption can significantly, albeit modestly, reduce blood pressure for people with high blood pressure but not for people with normal blood pressure".

Dark chocolate pieces.
Dark chocolate pieces.

Flavanols are a group of bioactive compounds found in certain plant-based foods including tea, cocoa, grapes, and blueberries. Raw cocoa beans are naturally very rich in a specific sub-group of flavonoids, known as cocoa flavanols. Flavanols can also be found contained in fruits and beverages such as grapes, lychees, strawberries, cacao, black tea, and green tea. Green tea and green tea extracts are rich in flavan-3-ols, including EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), catechin, epicatechin gallate, and epicatechin.

The pressure reduction seen in the combined results for people with hypertension, 5mm Hg systolic, may be clinically relevant - it is comparable to the known effects of 30 daily minutes of physical activity (4-9mm Hg) and could theoretically reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event by about 20% over five years.

The researchers are cautious, however;

"The practicability of chocolate or cocoa drinks as long-term treatment is questionable", said Dr Ried.

Does chocolate reduce blood pressure?

A meta-analysis Karin Ried, Thomas Sullivan, Peter Fakler, Oliver R Frank and Nigel P Stocks BMC Medicine 2010, 8:39 doi:10.1186/1741-7015-8-39

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Cite This Page (APA): BioMed Central. (2010, June 28). Dark Chocolate Can Lower Blood Pressure. Disabled World. Retrieved January 16, 2022 from