Friday, August 13, 2010


It has always been held that some food substances can aid our health. There is a very popular branch of medicine called the nutriceuticals that are basically food substances with health values. Good examples are wines, fish oils, garlic, and of course dark chocolates.

There were many onservational studies which seemed to show that 50 grams of dark chocolate daily ( the darker the better, the more bitter the better ), seem to be cardio-protective and also lower BP. We think that it is the flavinoids in these dark ( full of cocoa ) chocolates that confer the cardio-protectiveness.

In the August 10 issue of the British Medical Journal ( BMJ ), there is an interesting article on dark chocolates and blood pressure, with an unusual twist. Dr Karin Ried and colleagues at the University of Adelaide, Australia, carried out a study on 36 subjects, with pre-hypertension ( these are subjects whose BP are borderline - 130/90 mmHg ), and gave them dark chocolates, tomato juice and placebo, over 6 months, to see if either of this will help to reduce BP in pre-hypertensives. Well, the simple answer is, the study is negative. Neither dark chocolate ( 50 gms daily or half a bar daily ), or tomato juice, lower BP in prehypertensives. What was unusual was that 50% of the subjects, could not tolerate taking half a bar of dark chocolate a day for 3 months ( each group had either dark chocolates, tomato juice or placebo for 3 months and then they switch to the other ). The study was not blinded, but placebo controlled and randomised.

It would appear that taking dark chocolates for fun is trendy and nice, but to take it as a " medication " for 3 months or life long, that's another story.

So, it would appear that the first effort to find evidence of dark chocolate lowering BP is negative. Obviously we need more evidence. I must say that, if we can, dark chocolates maybe weekly, may be cardio-protective. It may also lower blood pressure. However, one must be careful that the dark chocolates do not contain too much calories, as that may give rise to obesity and become counter productive.

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