Observational studies have shown that cocoa-containing foods are linked to lower cardiovascular mortality and high doses of cocoa can improve endothelial function and reduce blood pressure.
However, the effects low habitual cocoa intake on blood pressure has not been studied previously.
The researchers of this new study, published in JAMA, undertook a randomised, controlled trial in 44 adults with untreated upper-range prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension without concomitant risk factors.
Participants were given 6.3g per day of either polyphenol-containing dark chocolate or polyphenol-free white chocolate.
At the end of the 18-week study the authors found that dark chocolate intake reduced mean systolic blood pressure by 2.9mmHg and mean diastolic blood pressure by -1.9mmHg.
JAMA 2007; 298: 9.
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