A diagnosis of high blood pressure (or hypertension) requires dietary and lifestyle changes, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your sweet tooth. Turns out, chocolate can actually help lower blood pressure, as well as control blood pressure.
Is your blood pressure above 120/80? Hypertension greatly increases your chances of lethal conditions such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, as well as disabilities such as blindness, impotence and leg amputation. If you ignore hypertension, you could be ignoring heart damage. Be heart smart and aim to keep your blood pressure around 115/76. The key to good pressure includes a healthy lifestyle, which includes stressing less, exercising and dieting—but you don’t have to give up on all of your vices. Some experts say chocolate has the ability to lower blood pressure.
Benefits of the Cocoa Bean for High Blood Pressure
Eating smart doesn’t mean you have to miss out on flavor. Chocolate has many healthy benefits, including lowering and controlling blood pressure. Chocolate comes from the cocoa bean, which is rich in plant nutrients called flavonoids, a chemical that removes toxins and repairs damage. Unsweetened and dark chocolates contain more flavonoids. Foods with flavonoids are also rich in antioxidants, which helps the body’s cells resist damage caused by normal bodily functions. Without antioxidants, our bodies would cause low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, to form plaque on artery walls.
Chocolate’s Secret Ingredient to Remedy High Blood Pressure
The specific type of flavonoid found in the cocoa bean are flavonols, which are known to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, as well as make blood platelets less sticky and less likely clot. A healthy heart means healthy blood pressure and vice-versa. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, don’t sweat it, flavonols in cranberries, apples, peanuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts, raisins, purple potatoes onions, tea and red wine also help to control blood pressure.
How Chocolate Lowers Blood Pressure
Don’t stock up on your favorite chocolate treats just yet. Unfortunately milk chocolate and white chocolate aren’t the types of the sweet treat that actually lower blood pressure. The chocolate known to lower blood pressure needs to contain at least 50% to 70% cocoa and should be dark chocolate. Studies show that dark chocolate causes a small decrease in bad cholesterol, as well as an increase in good cholesterol. With all of these heart-healthy benefits, it’s no surprise that dark chocolate has also been linked to a reduction in cardiovascular disease.
How Much Chocolate You Should Eat to Lower Blood Pressure
Don’t go cocoa-crazy. Eat chocolate in moderation, and study up on the nutritional food labels. Choose chocolate with the lowest amount of sugar and highest amount of cocoa – they are the best at controlling blood pressure for a healthy body. At the very least, remember to look for chocolate with 50% to 70% cocoa. Eating a half ounce of dark chocolate every day can lower blood pressure by 5 points, which could ultimately decrease your heart attack or stroke risk by as much as 20%. Make your snack even sweeter (and healthier!) by combining your daily dose of chocolate with orange sections, berries or your favorite fruit.
Hypertension can lead to deadly diseases or disorders. Luckily, the key to lower blood pressure might just be chocolate. This tasty treat, along with diet and exercise, has been proven to control blood pressure, which leads to overall heart healthy benefits.