Chocolate protects your heart by lowering blood pressure and benefits are ‘undeniable’, scientists reveal

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CHOCOLATE protects your heart by lowering blood pressure, researchers have found.

Flavanols — antioxidants found in cocoa — help loosen veins and arteries.

A University of Surrey study found people who took cocoa supplements had lower blood pressure and stretchier blood vessels within three hours.

The super-concentrated pills had as many flavanols as about 500g of dark chocolate.

Study author Professor Christian Heiss said: “The positive impact cocoa flavanols have on our cardiovascular system is undeniable.

“We used a lot of flavanols but some dark chocolate has significant amounts, too.

“Average intake of flavanols is about three times lower than you need to feel the effects so I think even if people increase it a little bit they would get a benefit.

“A diet of 100 per cent chocolate would definitely cause other problems but you can also get them from red wine, blueberries and spinach.”

One in three Brits has high blood pressure and it increases their risk of heart attack and stroke.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, saw 11 people alternate days between cocoa pills or a placebo during their normal daily life.

It found blood pressure was lower on the days they took the cocoa and their blood vessels were more able to grow and shrink.

The supplements did not lower blood pressure on days when it was already low, which could give it an edge over current medications.

Prof Heiss added: “The next step is to test it in patients to see if it’s useful.

“We don’t know whether it can replace pills but I think in the future we’re going to try.

“Drugs don’t work for a good proportion of people so if someone doesn’t have a really high blood pressure we might want to start with a health intervention like this.”

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