After examining data from 20 trials involving more than 850 people who consumed dark chocolate or cocoa powder on a regular basis, the team found that participants blood pressure reduce, on average, by 2-3 mmHG. Dark chocolate or cocoa powder consumed during the trial contained compounds called flavanols.
The researchers state that an adult's blood pressure should be lower than 140/85 mmHG. However, it is usually recommended that blood pressure should be below 130/80mmHg if you have heart or circulatory disease, including heart attack or stroke, angina, coronary heart disease, or have diabetes or kidney disease.
Victoria Taylor, Senior Dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, explained:
"Although this review showed a small reduction in blood pressure, the findings are hampered by a lack of consistency between the studies. It's difficult to tell exactly what sort of quantities of flavanol-rich cocoa would be needed to observe a beneficial effect and the best way for people to obtain it.
With most of the studies carried out over a short period of time it's also not possible to know for sure whether the benefits could be sustained in the long term. 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.
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."
Written by Grace Rattue