Chocolate-derived treatments for hypertension?

Dr. Tadwalkar noted that the results held promise despite the study’s limitations.

“The study’s findings hold significant promise for the prevention of essential hypertension. If future research confirms the causal relationship, it could pave the way for not only dietary recommendations but also dark chocolate-derived bioactive compounds or extracts in the development of novel therapies for the prevention or management of essential hypertension. Ultimately, the study offers exciting possibilities for the future of essential hypertension prevention,” he explained to Medical News Today.

The researchers did not find any associations between dark chocolate intake and other cardiovascular diseases.

Dr. Cheng-Han Chen, a board certified interventional cardiologist and medical director of the Structural Heart Program at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, CA, who was not involved in the study, commented with his thoughts on the study to MNT:

“Of the diseases studied, dark chocolate intake was specifically associated with reduced risk of hypertension, but not any other conditions. While this is a notable finding, its clinical implication is limited.”

“The clinical cardiovascular concern for hypertension would be on its potential impact on rates of resultant conditions such as heart attack and stroke, but no other associations between dark chocolate intake and other cardiovascular conditions were identified. I wouldn’t discourage dark chocolate intake based on this study, but I also wouldn’t recommend increasing dark chocolate intake based on this study alone,” Dr. Chen added.

Will eating more chocolate improve my heart health?

This research also presents particular challenges and limitations.

First, the sample size exposure data was small, which may have impacted the results. Second, they lost some of the single nucleotide polymorphisms summary-level data for stroke and heart failure, which could have affected the results. The research also utilized data from European ancestry, meaning the results cannot be generalized to other populations.

Their research did not allow for certain analyses, such as looking at the amount of dark chocolate intake or the risk for cardiovascular diseases based on factors like age or gender. There was also some potential bias because of sample overlap. Finally, there may have been some risk of confounding regarding coronary heart disease data.

Overall, the results point to the potential benefits of dark chocolate for preventing essential hypertension. It also opens the door for future research in this area.

Dr. Tadwalkar noted the following:

“Several exciting research avenues remain open in the wake of studies like this one. Next steps include unraveling the precise mechanisms by which dark chocolate consumption influences cardiovascular health. This could involve utilizing advanced genetic techniques to understand how dark chocolate intake might influence gene expression patterns relevant to cardiovascular health.”

“Also, further research could delve into the potential impact of dark chocolate on other cardiovascular endpoints, such as atherosclerotic plaque formation and progression, cardiac function and remodeling, as well as blood clotting and fibrinolysis,” he added.