Good news for chocolate lovers
Eating dark chocolate or tomatoes daily may rescue people from the brink of high blood pressure, according to scientists testing the theory.
The two popular foods have proven benefits for patients who already have high blood pressure, or hypertension. University of Adelaide researchers are investigating whether the chemicals in cocoa and tomatoes could also help lower blood pressure in people at the high end of the normal range.
"There's a lot of people in this group who will go on to develop hypertension in the next five to 10 years," said researcher Dr Karin Ried. "We want to be able to give them a lifestyle choice to help them avoid it and the heart risk, and the medication that goes with that."
The team will give their pre-hypertensive participants either 50mg (fifty MILLIGRAMS?? Is that all??? That's just being cruel to the pateints - MillyMoo) of extra-strength dark chocolate, a tomato extract pill or a placebo capsule every day for two months.
A recent chocolate study showed that plant phenols found in cocoa beans, as well as tea and wine, can lower blood pressure in people who are already hypertensive.
An antioxidant called flavanol was responsible for the effect because it neutralised potentially cell-damaging substances known as oxygen free radicals.
"We're hoping they'll have a similar effect on people who are heading towards a blood pressure problem," Dr Ried said.
Other studies have found that potent antioxidants like lycopene, beta-carotene and vitamin E found in tomatoes could also be beneficial. Patients will consume an extra-strength pill which Dr Ried says is the equivalent of eating about 15 ripe garden-grown tomatoes every day.
The university will take 60 volunteers with systolic blood pressure between 120 and 139 and diastolic blood pressure between 80 and 89.
Now here's the sort of blood pressure pills I want to be taking!