High blood pressure symptoms: Eating chocolate could cut heart attack risk

Dark chocolate is rich in chemicals called flavanols, which could help to lower blood pressure.

High blood pressure is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Flavanols are also found in some fruits, including apples, pears, grapes and blueberries.

A study of more than 14,000 people revealed eating more than four dark chocolate bars a week significantly reduces blood pressure.

The participants were broken up into three groups; those eating one or two chocolate bars a week, those eating three of four a week, and those eating more than four.

Scientists from Walden University, Minneapolis, recorded their blood pressure and heart rate while sitting down and at rest.

All of the participants’ blood pressure “significantly decreased” when eating more dark chocolate, the researchers revealed.

Additionally, an Australian study has also concluded that dark chocolate reduces blood pressure after analysing 15 previous studies.

Lead author of the research, Dr Karin Ried, said: “We’ve found that consumption can modestly reduce blood pressure for people with high blood pressure, but not for people with normal blood pressure.”

Further trials were needed to find whether chocolate or cocoa drinks could be sued in long-term treatment.

The charity Blood Pressure Association said the research was “interesting”, but more studies were needed.

The charity’s executive director, Mike Rich, said: “Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the occasional sweet treat, but eating too much chocolate may cause weight gain, which in turn raises blood pressure, so we wouldn't recommend that people rush out to get giant bars of dark chocolate just yet.”

About one in four people in the UK are affected by high blood pressure.

According to the British Heart Foundation, roughly seven million people live with the condition undiagnosed.

Hypertension increase the risk of heart disease, kidney disease, stokes and vascular dementia.

Only a blood pressure test will reveal if someone suffers from high blood pressure.

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