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Attention Choc-aholics: Cocoa Reduces Hypertension

Chocolate has been getting a lot of press recently, but not as a guilty junk food indulgence.

As more and more of its phytonutrient profile gets discovered, good quality chocolate is getting recognized as a health food with very high antioxidant values.

New research out of Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain is showing cocoa powder may be helpful in temporary lowering of blood pressure in hypertensive subjects. The commercial cocoa powder has researchers touting its potential to decrease hypertension and boost heart health, after results of a new study done on rats.

The study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found that rats who were fed 300 milligrams per kilogram of body weight of the cocoa powder had a reduction in blood pressure on par with a dose of pharmaceutical anti-hypertensive medication.

The cocoa powder used in the study is one developed specifically to be high in flavanoid phytochemicals. The powder contains 129 milligrams per gram of procyanidins, antioxidant chemicals found in high levels in red wine, green tea and raw chocolate which have been credited with preventing cancer, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

It’s important to recognize that running to the corner for a Snickers is unlikely to have a positive effect on your blood pressure, however. Good quality, preferably raw, chocolate is where you will find the most procyanidins, which researchers suspect is the source of the chocolate’s blood pressure lowering power.

Most commercial chocolate is still sugar-loaded junk food, not health food. Check your local health food store for healthy chocolate and check your ingredients lists!

The Healthy Foodie is Doug DiPasquale, Holistic Nutritionist and trained chef, living in Toronto. You can email him with questions at [email protected]

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