High blood pressure is a precursor for a host of life-threatening complications including heart attack and stroke. Fortunately, slight lifestyle modifications can help manage if not reverse hypertension completely. One warm drink has demonstrated potent lowering effects on blood pressure that have been observed in the space of one hour.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is diagnosed when either systolic or diastolic pressure is too high.
Together, the two components make up the total blood pressure measurement.
According to Harvard Health, systolic pressure is what the heart generates when it beats to pump blood to the rest of the body.
Blood Pressure UK explains it is the component that offers a better indication of one’s risk of having a stroke.
A total of thirty-six participants were recruited for the experiment, nineteen of which were hypertensive, and seventeen of which had normal blood pressure.
All participants had their blood pressure recorded on three separate days using ambulatory blood pressure monitors – blood pressure was recorded every half hour for eight hours.
The results of the study were promising, showing that just a single drink of cocoa could cause “fairly large” decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure among hypertensive individuals.
The researchers noted: “For both cohorts, the mean BP decreases were evidence within an hour of consumption of the cocoa drink and were sustained for about two and a half to three hours.
“The study found that blood pressure changes in the non-hypertensive cohort were small and not significant.”
Separate investigations probing the blood-pressure-lowering effects of chocolate have put the results down to flavanols, which promote dilation of blood vessels.
Cocoa is especially abundant in flavonols, which has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Flavonols decrease blood pressure by promoting the formation of nitric oxide, which could help reduce the overall risk of cardiovascular disease.
Healthline points out, however, that “while cocoa is a great source of polyphenols, not all products containing cocoa will provide the same benefits”.
It is 100 percent cocoa that delivers the most beneficial effects on blood pressure because it contains the heartiest dose of flavanols.
What’s more, a team of researchers in Sweden found that dark chocolate could be as effective as lowering blood pressure as medicine thanks to its high concentration of catechins and procyanidins.
To date, research points out that the lowering effect of cocoa on blood pressure is more significant in hypertensive individuals than healthy people.