According to research, cocoa lowers blood pressure and vascular stiffness
According to research from the University of Surrey, cocoa only reduces blood pressure and arterial stiffness when these factors are already elevated.
The journal “Frontiers in Nutrition” published the study’s findings.
Previous research has shown that cocoa flavanols can lower blood pressure and arterial stiffness just as effectively as some blood pressure medications. However, because previous research in this area was done in strictly regulated experimental settings, it is still unknown how effective flavanols are in lowering blood pressure in daily life.
By lowering blood pressure when it is not elevated, Surrey’s new research allays worries that using cocoa to treat high blood pressure might be harmful to one’s health. This opens the door for its potential use in clinical settings. Using flavanols, a substance present in cocoa, to reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness in people outside of clinical settings was the goal of the first study of its kind.
Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Surrey, Christian Heiss, stated: “It is critical that we research novel approaches to treat such conditions because high blood pressure and arterial stiffness increase a person’s risk of heart disease and strokes.
“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,” says the study. “Before we even consider introducing cocoa into clinical practises.”
Eleven healthy participants took six cocoa flavanol capsules or six placebo capsules containing brown sugar on alternate days over 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.
Before taking the capsules, every 30 minutes for the first three hours, then hourly for the following nine hours, blood pressure and PWV measurements were made. Researchers discovered that participants’ blood pressure and arterial stiffness were only reduced if they had high blood pressure; when their blood pressure was low in the morning, there was no effect.
It’s noteworthy that effects were for the first time discovered eight hours after cocoa consumption. The second peak may be the result of the gut bacteria’s metabolising of cocoa flavanols, according to researchers.
Prof. Heiss continued, “It is undeniable that cocoa flavanols have beneficial effects on our cardiovascular system, particularly blood vessel function and blood pressure. Doctors frequently worry that some blood pressure medications may on occasion lower blood pressure too much.”
“Our findings suggest that cocoa flavanols only lower blood pressure when it is elevated. Working with the participants’ personal health technologies demonstrated the daily variability of blood pressure and arterial stiffness as well as the contribution of personal health monitors to the design and delivery of efficient individualised care.”
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