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Dark chocolate could lower blood pressure

New research suggests that consuming dark chocolate or cocoa powder every day is linked with slightly lowered blood pressure.

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White and black chocolate bars are displayed at a stand as part of the 'Salon du Chocolat' (chocolate fair) on March 9, 2012, in Lille. (PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Chocolate lovers have another reason to smile. A new review of research suggests that consuming dark chocolate or cocoa powder every day is linked with slightly lowered blood pressure, the Huffington Post reported.

According to Reuters, the research group looked at 20 different trials that included 856 people. The trials each lasted different lengths and participants consumed varying amounts of flavanols.

Karin Ried, of the National Institute of Integrative Medicine in Australia, said in a statement, "Although we don't yet have evidence for any sustained decrease in blood pressure, the small reduction we saw over the short term might complement other treatment options and might contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease."

Ried told MSN, the reason chocolate may have so many health benefits is because, "cocoa contains flavanols, which are responsible for the formation of nitric oxide in the body, and nitric oxide causes blood vessel walls to relax and open wider, thereby reducing blood pressure."

This isn't the first time that chocolate has been herald as a health food. Earlier this year GlobalPost reported on another study that suggested eating 100 grams of dark chocolate everyday would help those who are at risk for heart attacks and strokes.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) even believes in the benefits of chocolate. Last month GlobalPost reported that the EFSA ruled that cocoa powder and dark chocolate can help people improve blood circulation - a claim made by Barry Callebaut, the world's largest maker of chocolate products.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/health/120816/dark-chocolate-could-lower-blood-pressure