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Lower your blood pressure with dark chocolate cocoa

Indulge with dark chocolate to reap the benefits
Indulge with dark chocolate to reap the benefits

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, help yourself and the one you love by consuming flavonol-rich dark chocolate. While you prepare the roses and the sweet indulgence of chocolate, turn to dark chocolate. The cocoa is rich in flavonoids, which is commonly known for its antioxidant properties, but recently has shown to help in reducing blood pressure.

According to two recent studies, one published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2008 and the second published this January in the American Journal of Hypertension, healthy and hypertensive individuals were studied and showed significant decreases in their monitored blood pressure, thus decreasing cardiovascular risk factors. It is believed this is achieved by increasing the availability and uptake of Nitric Oxide.

Nitric oxide prevents the blood vessels in the body from contracting and providing greater resistance for the heart. Those diagnosed with hypertension, diabetes, or other vascular problems many times have impaired Nitric Oxide pathways. By consuming flavonoid-rich foods such as dark chocolate and herbal teas, short-term effects such as lowering blood pressure and decreasing arterial hypertension have been noted. In addition the study showed an increase in glucose sensitivity, which greatly benefits those who have been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes.

This of course should not be a substitute for proper monitoring of your cardiovascular health. Proper diet and nutrition should always be maintained, but, while you and your valentine are enjoying a box of chocolates or those delicious chocolate-covered strawberries, why not make it a heart-healthy choice.