Does Chocolate Improve Blood Pressure?

Is it possible that a deliciously decadent treat is actually good for you?

Q: I can’t tell you how happy I was when I read that chocolate may help improve blood pressure. Is that true?

A: Yes, but with limitations. Scientists have discovered that the antioxidant flavonoids in chocolate can lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, improve the elasticity of blood vessels, and may increase HDL (“good” cholesterol). Dark chocolate contains more than double the amount of flavonoids as milk chocolate, and — another strike against milk chocolate — the addition of milk may stop the intestines from absorbing the flavonoids. So if you’re going to eat chocolate, choose a variety that is at least 70 percent dark chocolate.

Of course, chocolate is also rich in calories and fat that will lead to weight gain if you overdo it, so make sure that you eat chocolate only in one-ounce snack-sized portions — and remember to account for the extra 150 calories in your daily calorie allotment.

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