More happy justification for chocolate lovers: blood pressure responds favorably to cocoa, but not tea, a new analysis suggests.
Authors of the study say that while both products are rich in polyphenols, the study findings suggest that phenols in cocoa may be more active than those in tea. The study appears in the April 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
“Products rich in cocoa may be considered part of a blood pressure lowering diet, provided that the total energy intake does not increase,” lead investigator for the study, Dirk Taubert, MD, PhD, from the University Hospital of Cologne in Cologne, Germany, told heartwire. “I believe that cocoa is healthier than other sugar confectionary or high-fat dairy products.”
Cocoa Beats Tea for blood pressure
In the cocoa studies, cocoa consumption was typically flavonol-rich chocolate in the range of 100 g per day; in the tea studies, consumption was in the range of 4 to 6 cups daily.
In the cocoa studies, blood pressure dropped; however, in the tea studies, no differences were seen in blood pressure. The authors point out that while the 2 substances contain similar amounts of polyphenols, the components of these polyphenols differ between cocoa and tea: cocoa is particularly rich in procyanidins, whereas black and green tea are rich in flavan-3-ols and gallic acid. It may be that the polyphenol components in cocoa are more bioavailable, Taubert and colleagues propose.
According to Taubert and colleagues, the effects of cocoa on blood pressure were comparable to those achieved with antihypertensive drugs. “The magnitude of the hypotensive effects of cocoa is clinically noteworthy; it is in the range that is usually achieved with single doses of medication,” they write.
“At the population level, this level of reduction of blood pressure would be expected to substantially reduce the risk of;
- stroke (by about 20%),
- coronary heart disease (by 10%), and
- all-cause mortality (by 8%).”
Research article published in the Arch Intern Med. 2007;167:626-634.