Results of a Dutch observational study show that regular consumption ofcocoa-containing foods lowers blood pressure (BP) and reduces the risk ofdeath. The findings were reported in the February 2006 issue of the Archivesof Internal Medicine.
The study involved 470 elderly men who were free from chronic disease atenrollment. Their BP was measured at baseline and 5 years later, and a dietaryhistory was taken every 5 years for 15 years from baseline. At the start of thestudy, two thirds of the men reported consuming an average of 2.11 g of cocoa aday, the most common sources being plain chocolate and chocolate bars.
After taking into account all other factors, the researchers found that theconsumption of cocoa was inversely associated with BP. Mean systolic anddiastolic BPs were 3.7 and 2.1 mm Hg lower, respectively, in people with thehighest cocoa intake, compared with those with the lowest. Also, cocoaintake was related to a lower risk of dying during follow-up. Researchers suggestthat, because cocoa is a rich source of antioxidants, it could have a positiveeffect on diseases related to oxidative stress, and that these findingsmerit continued study.