Flavonols Present in Cocoa May Reduce Blood Pressure

Nearly half of adults in the United States (47%, or 116 million) have hypertension, defined as a systolic blood pressure greater than 130 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure greater than 80 mmHg or are taking medication for hypertension.

In 2020, more than 670k deaths in the United States had hypertension as a primary or contributing cause. Hypertension puts the patients at risk for heart disease and stroke, which are the leading causes of death in the United States. 

Of all the patients with hypertension, it is estimated that only 1 in 4 adults (24% have their condition under control. 

The use of dietary modifications and lifestyle changes is one of the most important aspects of the treatment of hypertension. 

Studies have suggested that there is an inverse relationship between the consumption of flavonoid-rich diets and the risk of cardiovascular disease, and recently a group of researchers found that cocoa flavonols can effectively lower the blood pressure in people with ideal blood pressure, as well as reduce arterial stiffness. The study appears in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition. 

Reduced Blood Pressure and Arterial Stiffness

For the study, the team used an n-of-1 study design, where a small number of participants were exposed to the same intervention or the placebo multiple times. 

The team included a total of 11 healthy adults who received alternating doses of cocoa flavonol capsules and placebo capsules for a total of 8 days at the same time during the morning. Blood pressure and heart rate were taken before. Arterial stiffness was measured using pulse wave velocity. 

The researchers found that the cocoa flavonols were effective in lowering blood pressure and reduciing arterial stiffness. They also observed that when an individual already had normal or low blood pressure levels, the cocoa flavonols did not reduce the blood pressure more, indicating that the intervention was potentially safe. 


Mariam Bapir, et al. Assessing Variability in Vascular Response to Cocoa With Personal Devices: A Series of Double-Blind Randomized Crossover n-of-1 Trials. 2022. Front. Nutr. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2022.886597 

CDC. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/index.htm 

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