Research published in the American Medical Associationís Archives of Internal Medicine reports that cocoa appears to have some benefit for those with high blood pressure. This article was a review of 10 other studies that, in addition to cocoa, examined five different kinds of tea, including black tea and green tea. In total, the results showed that while tea did not seem to offer any benefit for blood pressure, cocoa led to blood pressure reductions Ė about a 5mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure and a 3mmHg reduction in diastolic blood pressure.
Cocoa is a recent substance of interest in heart and high blood pressure research because it is a rich source of chemicals called polyphenols, also known as flavonoids, which are known to have protective effects on the heart and circulatory system. While this study focused on cocoa as a beverage (hot chocolate), solid forms of chocolate also contain high levels of polyphenols.
The effects of polyphenols are similar to single drug therapy with medications like beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, according to researchers, but no current dietary recommendations exist for polyphenols. Vegetables are also a rich source of polyphenol compounds.