Have you ever heard of the Kuna people? They've been in the news a lot lately. They are indigenous to the Central American island San Blas. And they have a secret that keeps their blood pressure normal well into old age.
Researchers discovered a few years ago that the Kuna didn't have high blood pressure, while their urban relatives did. Obviously, the healthy blood pressure wasn't genetic. So the researchers set out to find out the difference.
What they found out is that the rural Kuna drink an enormous amount of unprocessed cocoa. That is dark chocolate. And this is the only difference they could isolate between the two groups of relatives.
Well, researchers have been trying to prove that dark chocolate can lower blood pressure for everyone ever since. And just recently, a group of researchers from the National Institute of Integrative Medicine in Melbourne, Australia and the University of Adelaide reviewed several of the studies on dark chocolate. They found that, yes, those who eat more chocolate or cocoa really do have lower blood pressure.
These researchers looked at the results of 20 separate studies involving a total of 856 people. In each study, the participants ate 3-100 grams of chocolate or cocoa powder each day. The chocolate contained between 30 and 1,080 mg of total flavanols.
On average, the participants eating chocolate lowered their blood pressure by two to four mmHg. Those eating a flavanol-free chocolate didn't see any change.
All of these studies were short term (18 weeks or less). So the results don't prove long-term blood pressure reduction. But the researchers said "the small reduction we saw over the short term might complement other treatment options and might contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease."
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When you consider this newer study, the effectiveness of chocolate is even clearer. This study found that not only does chocolate keep blood pressure lower, it significantly reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke.
The researchers all agreed that chocolate does reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease primarily by lowering your blood pressure. So feel free to eat some dark chocolate every day. It not only tastes great - it could save your life!
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.