Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

Font Size

Cocoa May Cut Blood Pressure

Study Tracked Eating Habits of Elderly Men

Key Finding continued...

"Although there have been a few small intervention studies published, the amount of chocolate in these studies was huge -- in most cases 100 grams per day -- and the follow-up duration was quite short (a few weeks)," Buijsse says.

"These studies have clearly shown that cocoa lowers blood pressure and improves endothelial function. Now it is time to study whether there is a 'threshold' in the dose of chocolate. So, intervention studies that use lower amounts of dark chocolate or cocoa drink with duration longer than a few weeks are interesting," he continues. Endothelial function is the working of blood vessels' inner lining.

Stripped of Helpful Compounds?

"Of course, we need to test whether the cocoa flavanols are responsible," Buijsse says "A recently published study indeed indicates that they are. This needs to be confirmed."

His study tracked cocoa, not flavanols. That may be a weakness in the study, says Norman Hollenberg, MD, PhD, who recently published a different study on cocoa and blood pressure.

Hollenberg's study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was funded by the candy company Mars Inc., which is developing flavanol-rich cocoa products.

Cocoa is usually processed to remove bitterness. "Unfortunately, the bitterness is the flavanoids," Hollenberg tells WebMD. Flavanols are a type of flavanoid.

Researcher's View

"I am aware that during the production process of chocolate (especially alkalization and roasting of the cocoa beans), a part of the flavanols is broken down," Buijsse says. "This may be true to some extent, but commercially available cocoa foods still contain flavanols," he says.

"Although the flavanol content of commercially available cocoa foods is lower than that used in certain intervention studies, our results suggest that these foods may still exert an effect on cardiovascular health," Buijsse continues.

Even so, there's good reason not to go overboard with cocoa and chocolate.

"Chocolate contains loads of calories because of the sugar and fat in it," Buijsse writes. "If people eat a lot of chocolate, they inevitably gain weight. And having a high body weight is a major risk factor for high blood pressure and CVD."

Today on WebMD

blood pressure
Symptoms, causes, and more.
Learn the causes.
Compressed heart
5 habits to change.
Mature man floating in pool, goggles on head
Exercises that help.
heart healthy living
Erectile Dysfunction Slideshow
Bernstein Hypertension Affects Cardiac Risk
Compressed heart
Heart Disease Overview Slideshow
thumbnail for lowering choloesterol slideshow
Heart Foods Slideshow
Low Blood Pressure

WebMD Special Sections