Friday, January 25, 2008

Is dark chocolate healthy?!


A recent study that was published in JAMA has shown that eating a small amount of dark chocolate lowered blood pressure without weight gain or other adverse effects!


Participants either had untreated high blood pressure or were pre-hypertensive and were randomly assigned to one of 2 groups: one was told to eat 30 calories (or 6.3grams) of dark chocolate daily for 18 weeks and the other, the same amount of white chocolate for the same amount of time.

The dark chocolate group’s blood pressures decreased by 2 or 3 points whereas the white chocolate group’s didn’t change.

Dark chocolate contains polyphenols which are a group of chemical compounds that are believed to have some health benefits. The dark chocolate eaters also had higher blood levels of s-nitrosoglutathione which relaxes blood vessels and could explain the lower blood pressure.
According to the authors, although the blood pressure reduction was small, the effects are clinically noteworthy since it’s been estimated that only a 3 point reduction in blood pressure could reduce relative risk of stroke mortality by 8%, of coronary artery disease mortality by 5% and of all-cause mortality by 4%.

BUT

These findings need to be replicated: the study wasn’t double-blinded (meaning that the groups knew whether they were getting dark or white chocolate- duh!) and the number of participants was only 44.

Remember that weight gain will contribute to increasing your blood pressure- these people only ate 30 calories worth of chocolate- that’s the size of 1.5 Hershey Kisses. For us chocolate lovers, it's hard to stop there!

And, of course, the same results wouldn’t apply to dark chocolate cake or mousse or ice cream!
Still… I say have some dark chocolate this weekend- not for its health benefits- but cause it’s yummy!

Have a great weekend!

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