High blood pressure is often referred to as ‘the silent killer’, as the damage caused by the pressure of blood against the artery walls leads to serious health risks and the symptoms often go unnoticed. Its important for to check blood pressure regularly and if readings are too high, preventive measures to try and lower it should be taken. Lifestyle plays a huge role in treating high blood pressure and if levels can successfully be controlled with a few changes, need for medication can be avoided or delayed. Luckily, a certain sweet treat has been proven to help reduce blood pressure levels.
Chocolate lovers have reason to celebrate as scientists have discovered the indulgent treat can be beneficial.
Eaten in moderation and opting for dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate could help to lower blood pressure readings.
A study suggested that eating just a few squares of dark chocolate every day lowers blood pressure in just one month.
Researchers in Portugal found that this is due to dark chocolate being richer in the powerful antioxidant known as flavanols.
The study from the Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra in Portugal, led by Doctor Telmo Pereira, looked at 30 healthy adults who consumed 20g of dark chocolate every day for 30 days.
The study noted a dramatic change and significant improvement to their blood pressure.
Dark chocolate contains chemicals known as flavanols which is found in cocoa products, cocoa powder and to a lesser extent milk chocolate.
Flavanols are thought to widen blood vessels thus causing a drop in blood pressure.
Mike Rich, executive director of UK charity the Blood pressure Association said: “The research on the benefits of dark chocolate is interesting and seems to indicate that eating dark chocolate can have a moderate blood pressure lowering effect on those who already have high blood pressure.
“But more research is needed to see if this is anything more than a short-term effect.”
Other foods that could help lower blood pressure:
- Leafy greens
- Skim milk and yogurt
- Garlic and herbs
- Fatty fish
- Olive oil
Dark chocolate is similar to the benefits of garlic as the antioxidant present can raise the nitric oxide levels and widen the blood vessels.
Dark chocolate contains more than 60 per cent cocoa solids and has less sugar than regular chocolate. It can be added to yogurt or eaten with fruits such as strawberries, blueberries or raspberries as a healthy dessert alternative.
If a person is diagnosed with high blood pressure, they should monitor their blood pressure regularly.
Maintaining an awareness of blood pressure numbers can alert a person to any changes needed and help detect patterns.
While heart disease caused by high blood pressure is still an epidemic throughout the world, earlier and better treatment of high blood pressure has played a key role in that decrease.