Eating REAL Chocolate May Lower Your Blood Pressure, Study Suggests
A recent study published in the World Journal of Cardiovascular Diseases revealed that while magnesium levels may play a role in the onset of hypertension, consuming magnesium-rich foods like cocoa and dark chocolate may lower blood pressure levels. According to the study, magnesium may help mitigate hypertension by regulating the body’s blood flow.
To carry out the study, a team of researchers at the University of Hertfordshire in the U.K. pooled data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey and examined 25 people with hypertension, 21 people without the condition, and another set of controls. The participants were instructed to complete food diaries to determine their average daily magnesium consumption. The study revealed that hypertensive patients had significantly lower intake of dietary magnesium compared with the general population.
The research team also found that older individuals had lower magnesium intake across all the age groups. The experts noted that the study participants had lower overall magnesium intake regardless of their blood pressure status. According to the research team, the recommended daily magnesium intake in the U.S. was 400 mg for men and 310 mg for women. On the other hand, the recommended magnesium intake in the U.K. was 300 mg for men and 270 mg for women.
“Magnesium is a key factor in blood pressure regulation and our study suggests that not only can low dietary magnesium intake lead to hypertension but that worryingly, dietary magnesium intake is at lower than currently recommended levels across the board. Though recommended levels in the US are higher than the UK, the real issue lies with dietary intake and not with the recommendations themselves. It is important to understand how dietary magnesium impacts blood pressure as that way we can push initiatives to increase knowledge and awareness of this micronutrient, which may help to reduce blood pressure in the UK and subsequently save the NHS money on costly drug intervention…Figures show that by reducing the blood pressure of the nation as a whole, 850 million British Pounds of NHS and social care costs could be avoided over 10 years. Further, if 15 percent more people currently being treated for high blood pressure could control it better a further £120 million could be saved.
Cocoa, dark chocolate curbs hypertension in studies
A number of studies have previously established that magnesium-rich cocoa and dark chocolate may effectively slash blood pressure levels. In fact, a meta-analysis revealed that consuming these food items effectively reduced the patients’ blood pressure levels by an average 2.8/2.2 mm Hg across short-term trials. As part of the analysis, the researchers examined 20 studies with a total cohort population of more than 800 mainly healthy participants.
According to the researchers, even small reduction in blood pressure levels may keep cardiovascular risk in check. The researchers also noted that cocoa is an excellent source of antioxidants called flavonols that provide vasodilating effects. Cocoa consumption may serve as a complementary treatment to other blood pressure therapies, the researchers said. However, long-term trials are warranted to determine the efficacy of cocoa in curbing blood pressure levels, the research team concluded.
Another study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that participants who consumed a flavonol-rich coca drink for four weeks attained a significant increase in flow-mediated vasodilation by 21 percent. The research team also found that drinking the flavanol-rich beverage resulted in lower blood pressure levels and improved blood cholesterol profile. In addition, dietary flavonol consumption was associated with a 22 percent decrease in the 10-year risk of being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Flavonol intake was also tied to a 31 percent decline in the 10-year risk of suffering a heart attack, the researchers added. (Related: Study confirms that chocolate may slash blood pressure rates)