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A sweet treatment for high blood pressure

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For those with hypertension, a daily dose of dark chocolate may be just what the doctor ordered.

In a clinical trial, researchers found that dark chocolate may lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. The research, published in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association, also found that in test subjects who ate dark chocolate, levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol, dropped by about 10 percent.

Chocolate contains flavonoids, a natural antioxidant found in many foods, including tea, red wine and vegetables. Previous studies suggest that these flavonoid-rich foods offer cardiovascular benefits.

In the study, half of the 20 participants ate dark chocolate daily while the others ate white chocolate. The blood pressure of those who ate dark chocolate dropped, while those who ate white chocolate saw no change.

The findings do not mean people should gorge on dark chocolate. More study is needed, researchers said. In the meantime, flavonoid-rich foods, including chocolate, should be a part of an overall healthy diet.

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