Cocoa May Reduce Blood Pressure
By: Alere Staff
Publication Date: Sat, 06/01/2013
A recent analysis of 20 studies, “Does chocolate reduce blood pressure? A meta-analysis”, found that eating dark chocolate and antioxidant-rich cocoa daily can help lower blood pressure.1 Across the studies, the daily doses ranged from a spoon of cocoa powder to a full bar of chocolate, but overall blood pressure fell by an average 2.8/2.2 mm Hg. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury.
The reason provided for the small reduction of blood pressure was flavanols, compounds found in cocoa that produce a chemical which helps relax blood vessels so blood passes more easily. Not all chocolate or cocoa products are created equal though. Processing the cocoa or chocolate can often reduce the flavanols by 10% in the fresh cocoa bean down to 0.5% in high-cocoa content dark chocolate bar. Dutch processing for cocoa reduced it further to less than 0.001%.1
The Cochrane Collaboration, based in the UK, reviewed the research to investigate the effectiveness of health claims.1 The reduction in blood pressure from eating dark chocolate is modest and eating it is no substitute for taking medication, or reducing your blood pressure through exercise.
If you are taking warfarin, you should be happy to know that according to the USDA, (US Department of Agriculture) dark chocolate has low vitamin K content, around 2 mcg per ounce. For additional information about the vitamin K content in foods and beverages, visit our Vitamin K Finder. Like anything else you eat, when you are on warfarin, you need to have a consistent diet. As always, talk to your doctor before making any changes to your diet.
- Ried K et al. Does chocolate reduce blood pressure? A meta-analysis. BMC Med 2010;8:39.