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Take It To Heart – Chocolate That Is

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Okay, so it has been five days since you received that box of chocolates from your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day.  And if you did not consume truly massive quantities of chocolate all at once, how do you feel?  The answer is you should feel the calm that comes from lower blood pressure.  This, according to a group of physicians headed up by Dr. Dirk Taubert who did a clinical study on generally healthy people who had elevated blood pressure to find out what happens to their blood pressure if they eat dark chocolate over a period of time.  Very simply, they found that it statistically significantly lowered the people’s blood pressure.  I bring this up because as a geriatric care manager, a lot of the clients I see have blood pressure that is above what it should be.  And I can tell them that the doctors say they should have a diet that regularly includes some amount of dark chocolate.  People with dietary restrictions, however, need to check with their physicians.

This dietary recommendation does not take the place of the other recommendations we routinely get from medical professionals about fruits and vegetables and maintaining reasonable portions, but it does offer us a chance for a “healthy” dessert.  And the science in their clinical study is pretty solid.  Most other studies that have cited the beneficial effects of chocolate have done that based on simply observing some people over time, but Dr. Taubert and his colleagues actually set up a clinical trial with a placebo group and all the customary scientific controls.

This study was particularly relevant to me as geriatric care manager because all the study subjects were 56 to 73 years old.  Half the group received 30 mg daily of polyphenol-rich dark chocolate, and the other half of the adults got no polyphenol in their chocolate.  Polyphenol is the stuff in dark chocolate that is supposed to confer the benefit.  Well, 18 weeks later, Dr. Taubert and colleagues found what a lot of people have been claiming all along.  Without any changes in their body weights or their lipid or glucose levels, the group who got the good stuff in their chocolate had their incidence of hypertension decline from 86% to 68%.

To add to the credibility of Dr. Taubert’s research, it was published in 2007 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  You can click on Cocoa Intake and Blood Pressure  to see the article.  But seriously, don’t eat chocolate just to lower your blood pressure.  Do like I do: eat chocolate and savor the flavor. 

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…and Happy Belated Valentine’s Day.

Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families throughout metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to Charlotte Bishop.

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