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Chocolate and heart disease: Cocoa may be as beneficial as blood pressure meds

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A recent study suggests that cocoa can be beneficial for cardiovascular health, particularly in relation to blood pressure and arterial stiffness. However, it also emphasizes the importance of moderation and consulting with a healthcare professional before considering cocoa as a means to lower blood pressure. Here’s a summary of the key points from the article:

  1. Cocoa Flavanols and Cardiovascular Health: Research suggests that cocoa flavanols can have a positive impact on cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure and arterial stiffness.
  2. Concerns About Low Blood Pressure: Some scientists have raised concerns that consuming cocoa could lower blood pressure further, potentially to unhealthy levels, in individuals with normal or low blood pressure.
  3. New Study Findings: A recent study conducted in Australia aimed to address these concerns. The study found that cocoa only lowered blood pressure and arterial stiffness in participants whose readings were initially high, with no effect on those with low blood pressure.
  4. Chocolate Varieties: The article mentions that chocolate with higher levels of cocoa is likely to be more beneficial. However, it also cautions that many chocolate treats contain high levels of sugar and fat, which can have adverse health effects.
  5. Consultation with a Doctor: The article advises individuals interested in using cocoa to lower blood pressure to discuss this with their doctor before making any dietary changes.
  6. Real-World Study: The study conducted by researchers at the University of Surrey is noted as one of the first to examine cocoa consumption in a real-world scenario, outside of controlled laboratory conditions.
  7. Gut Metabolism: The study found a second peak in the beneficial effects of cocoa on blood pressure and arterial stiffness occurring eight hours after consumption. This second peak is believed to be related to how gut bacteria metabolize cocoa flavanols.
  8. Personal Health Monitors: The study also highlights the variability of blood pressure and arterial stiffness from day to day and underscores the role of personal health monitors in personalized healthcare.
  9. Additional Findings: The article briefly mentions other research findings related to the effects of chocolate consumption, such as its potential to aid in fat burning when consumed in the morning and its impact on blood glucose levels.

In summary, while cocoa flavanols may offer cardiovascular benefits, their effects on blood pressure appear to be more significant in individuals with high blood pressure. Anyone considering using cocoa for health reasons should consult with a healthcare professional, and moderation is key when consuming chocolate products due to their sugar and fat content.

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