16:27 16 August 2012
It is thought that by consuming the somewhat sought after snack chocolate, it can actually lower blood pressure levels.
A close inspection of 20 studies has suggested that by eating dark chocolate every day it can have a positive effect on blood pressure.
The chemicals found in cocoa relax blood vessels, according to a report by the Cochrane Group.
It is understood that between 3grams to 105grams of cocoa was consumed by participants of the study every day.
As reported by the BBC, a systolic blood pressure reading (when the heart is contracting) of under 120millimetres of mercury is perceived as normal.
The report showed that a reduction of around 2-3millimetres of mercury was the result of digesting cocoa.
However, the discoveries are a result of a two week period, and so the information cannot be conclusive long-term.
A lead researcher from the National Institute of Integrative Medicine in Melbourne, Karin Ried, told the BBC: "Although we don't yet have evidence for any sustained decrease in blood pressure, the small reduction we saw over the short term might complement other treatment options and might contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease."
Ingredients such as fats and sugars are also present in chocolate which should be considered when tackling mounting blood pressure.
In other observations, the Lancet Medical Journal found that dark chocolate could contain lesser ‘flavanols’ (which contain some antioxidants important to maintaining health) than can be expected.
This comes as dark chocolate contains less milk and more cocoa and so should have certain flavanols present, although these can be removed from the ingredients.
“The 100g of chocolate that had to be consumed daily in a number of the studies would also come with 500 calories - that's a quarter of a woman's recommended daily intake,” said Victoria Taylor from the British Heart Foundation, as quoted by the BBC.
"Beans, apricots, blackberries and apples also contain flavanols and, while containing lower amounts than in cocoa, they won't come with the unhealthy extras found in chocolate."
This study was also carried out over a short period of time, and so it cannot be conclusive of positive effects to be had.
Having a high blood pressure level is thought to be common and can result in fatality, and it is associated with over half of all stroke cases across the globe.
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