Good news for all you dark chocolate lovers. New research shows daily consumption of a very small amount of dark chocolate can successfully reduce blood pressure. In this recent study, participants at the beginning stages of high blood pressure (also known as prehypertension) consumed 6.3 grams (approx. 30 calories) of either dark chocolate or white chocolate daily for a period of 2 years. Those consuming the dark chocolate experienced a 3-point drop in their systolic blood pressure and a 2-point drop in their diastolic blood pressure; no benefit was found in those consuming the white chocolate. Unlike white chocolate, dark chocolate contains polyphenols that are believed to be responsible for the cardiovascular benefits of dark chocolate. According to study researchers, while this is a small number in and of itself, it would represent a 5 percent reduction in cardiovascular death risk. It's important to note that while this small amount of dark chocolate provides cardiovascular benefits with no noted health risks, increasing the amount of dark chocolate consumed daily could increase caloric intake significantly which itself has health risks.
Source: JAMA. 2007;298:49-60.