Cocoa rich chocolate lowers blood pressure enough on average to decrease the risk of a stroke

July 06, 2007

In this study 44 adults ages ranging from 56 through 73 with blood pressure ranging from prehypertension (130/85 to 139/89) to stage one hypertension (140/90 to 160/100) were enrolled in an eighteen-week randomized and controlled clinical study. They were supplemented with 6.3g of dark chocolate supplying 30mg of Polyphenols from Cocoa or white chocolate lacking the Polyphenols. The scientists did not know which patient was receiving which chocolate. By the end of the study the Cocoa Polyphenols had reduced systolic blood pressure by 2.9 mm hg; the upper figure in blood pressure, and the diastolic had dropped by 1.9 points. The white chocolate gave no improvement in blood pressure values. This drop is very significant since recent research has shown that a 3 point drop in systolic blood pressure can decrease the risk of a stroke by eight percent, of coronary artery disease mortality by five percent and of all-cause mortality by four percent. Plus it is easy for a person to incorporate this much cocoa in their diet on a daily, long-term basis whereas modifying lifestyle via exercise, dietary restriction, and weight loss is hard to maintain for most people. It is also important to note that the drop in elevated blood pressure seen with the use of Cocoa resembles those of comprehensive dietary changes that have proven efficacy in reducing the rate of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes and the finding is clinically relevant. It is very important to note that within this eighteen-week period the incidence of hypertension dropped from 86% of the study participants to 68%. The new study is published in the July 4th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.