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Short Term Effects of Cocoa Consumption on Blood Pressure



Hypertension, defined as diastolic pressure ≥ 90 mmHg and systolic pressure ≥ 140 mmHg, is a major cause of morbidity and mortality among black populations globally. Several studies have shown that prolonged consumption of cocoa or cocoa containing products leads to decreased blood pressure (BP) in hypertensives. In this study, we investigated the flavonoid content of the top selling cocoa/cocoa based products in Trinidad and Tobago and attempted to determine if consumption of cocoa had any immediate impact on blood pressure levels. The flavonoid content of three 100% cocoa powder products and four cocoa based formulas was measured using a modified Folin-Ciocalteu procedure. The brand with the highest flavonoid content, 372 gallic acid equivalents, was selected to evaluate the short-term impact of cocoa consumption on blood pressure. Thirty-six participants comprising nineteen hypertensives and seventeen persons with normal blood pressure had their blood pressure recorded on three separate days using ambulatory blood pressure monitors; the blood pressure was recorded every half hour for eight hours. On the first day, the participants received no intervention but on the second and third days, they received either the intervention (5 g cocoa in 125 ml water) or a placebo, in any order. Statistical analysis conducted using t-test statistic and a 95% confidence interval revealed that whether participants regularly took antihypertensive medication or not, a single intervention of cocoa induced decreases in both the diastolic and systolic BPs that were significant (p = 0.0001). Mean decreases of between 8 mmHg and 18 mmHg were observed.

30 Oct, 2013
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e-Published: 02 Dec, 2013
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