A cup of steaming hot chocolate usually invokes visions of an après-ski drink in a cozy mountain chalet. But what about drinking cocoa to get a lower blood pressure reading in your doctor’s office? In the first observational study of its kind, a recent long-term clinical trial found that regular consumption of antioxidant-rich cocoa may cut the risk of CVD by half.
After observing 470 elderly men (average age 72) for 15 years, the researchers concluded that the flavonols found in cocoa were inversely associated with blood pressure, CVD mortality and all-cause mortality. The study participants were not on blood pressure medication during the study period; they simply upped their intake of cocoa products (chocolate confections, desserts and drinks, and dietary supplements made from cocoa beans).
Compared with a control group, men with the highest cocoa intake had lower systolic blood pressure and lower death rates from CVD and all-cause mortality. The researchers attributed this effect to the cocoa flavonols.
The study results were published in the February 27, 2006, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.