Doctors could soon be prescribing a dose of dark chocolate to help people with hypertension, according to a new research.
Scientists combined the results of 15 studies into the effects of flavanols, the compounds in chocolate, which cause dilation of blood vessels, on blood pressure.
Dr Karin Ried worked with a team of researchers from the University of Adelaide, Australia, to conduct the analysis.
"Flavanols have been shown to increase the formation of endothelial nitric oxide, which promotes vasodilation and consequently may lower blood pressure. There have, however, been conflicting results as to the real-life effects of eating chocolate," she said..
"We've found that consumption can significantly, albeit modestly, reduce blood pressure for people with high blood pressure but not for people with normal blood pressure," she added.
The pressure reduction seen in the combined results for people with hypertension, 5mm Hg systolic, may be clinically relevant - it is comparable to the known effects of 30 daily minutes of physical activity (4-9mm Hg) and could theoretically reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event by about 20 percent over five years.
The researchers are cautious, however, "The practicability of chocolate or cocoa drinks as long-term treatment is questionable", said Dr Ried.
The study appears in the open access journal BMC Medicine. (ANI)