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Cocoa helps to reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness: Study

Researchers at The University of Surrey found that cocoa reduces blood pressure and arterial stiffness. The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.

Previous research has shown that cocoa flavanols can decrease blood pressure and arterial stiffness just as well as some blood pressure medications. However, past research in this field was done in strictly regulated laboratory settings, it is still uncertain how beneficial flavanols are in lowering blood pressure in daily life.

Surrey’s new research allays worries that using cocoa to treat high blood pressure would be harmful to one’s health by lowering blood pressure when it is not elevated. This opens the door for its possible usage in clinical settings.

In the first study of its kind study, researchers set out to investigate the use of flavanols, a substance present in cocoa, in lowering blood pressure and arterial stiffness in individuals outside of clinical settings.

Christian Heiss, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Surrey, said, ‘Before we even consider introducing cocoa into clinical practices, we need to test if the results previously reported in laboratory settings safely translate into real-world settings, with people going about their everyday lives’.

Eleven healthy individuals took six cocoa flavanol capsules or six placebo capsules containing brown sugar on alternate days throughout the course of several days. An upper arm blood pressure monitor and a finger clip that measures pulse wave velocity (PWV), a metric for arterial stiffness, were given to the participants.

Blood pressure and PWV readings were collected before and every 30 minutes for the first three hours after taking the capsules, then hourly for the following nine hours. Researchers discovered that participants’ blood pressure and arterial stiffness were only reduced if they had high blood pressure and when their blood pressure was low in the morning, there was no impact.

Professor Heiss added, ‘What we have found indicates that cocoa flavanols only decrease blood pressure if it is elevated. Working with participants’ personal health technologies showed us how variable blood pressure and arterial stiffness can be from day to day and shows the role of personal health monitors in developing and implementing effective personalised care’.


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