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Cocoa Flavonols Lower Blood Pressure

Posted Sep 24 2012 10:08pm

A recent Cochrane review has confirmed that eating dark chocolate or cocoa can help to lower blood pressure. The analysis of 20 randomized controlled or crossover trials included in the review revealed that consumption of flavonol-rich cocoa products led to an average 8/2.2 mm Hg drop in blood pressure. "Even small reductions in blood pressure substantially reduce cardiovascular risk," wrote Karin Ried, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Adelaide, Australia. The researchers also went on to suggest that cocoa "might complement other treatment options". However, they also stressed that long-term studies are needed to determine whether or not blood pressure is reduced on a chronic basis by daily ingestion of cocoa, and to determine any impact on clinical outcomes or chronic adverse effects. Reacting to the review, Carol Horowitz, MD, MPH, of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, wrote: "I would tell [patients] to enjoy small amounts of chocolate if it's a food they like, but that too much of it can lead to weight gain, which can increase blood pressure and introduce a host of other health problems." Experts recommend consuming no more than an ounce of dark chocolate each day, but add that cocoa powder is preferable as it contains more flavonols and fewer calories.

Ried K, Sullivan TR, Fakler P, Frank OR, Stocks NP. Effect of cocoa on blood pressure. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Aug 15;8:CD008893.

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42. Fiber, The Anti-Fat
Fiber soaks up fat. A high-fiber diet can improve your digestion, relieve the strain on your liver and gall bladder, and reduce your risk of large bowel cancer, gallstones, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, colitis, hemorrhoids, hernia, and varicose veins. Your body will benefit from both soluble fiber (sources include dried beans, oats, barley, apples, citrus fruits, and potatoes) and insoluble fiber (found in whole grains, wheat bran, cereals, seeds, and the skins of many fruits and vegetables). Aim for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's recommended intake of 25 to 30 grams of daily fiber a day.
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