Another study on the health benefits of dark chocolate is out and the evidence seems to keep pointing to a substance that lowers blood pressure, among other healthful things, although the research published in the Cochrane Library notes the need for more long term studies.
It's all because of flavanoids in things like dark chocolate, grapes and red wine that lower inflammation, says Dr. Frank Smart, Chief of Cardiology at LSU Health Sciences Center. But are doctors actually recommending or prescribing dark chocolate to patients now? Dr. Smart laughs and says, "We absolutely tell people...it's rather funny that you mention that, I just saw a patient that I was telling that he needs to change his diet around a little bit and eat more anti-inflammatory things like grapes, red wine."
One of the main benefits of cocoa seems to be that it's a natural substance that lowers blood pressure.
So we're learning more and more that what you put in your mouth can either negatively or positively affect your health. "We see beneficial effects of some foods and we see negative effects of others, and a good balance in your diet is important." And for some people it's even more important says Dr. Smart.
"More trials in which the intake of low flavanol dosages are compared with flavanol-free controls are required to test whether low dosages are effective in reducing blood pressure," say researchers. "In addition, longer term trials are needed to elucidate whether regular consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa products has a beneficial effect on blood pressure and cardiovascular health over time, and whether there are any potential adverse effects of long-term ingestion of cocoa products on a daily basis."