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Nutrition 302

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					                                                                                    Nancy Childers
                                                                    Nutrition 302 Claims Evaluation
                                                                                  February 23, 2010

        Chocolate is an indulgence that seems to have the power to fix a terrible day, ease the

misery of P.M.S., and cure all types of boredom. But, some medical professionals say that it has

another power to lower blood pressure. This power is reported as only belonging to one type of

chocolate: dark chocolate. While most people eagerly latch onto this claim in an attempt to enjoy

dark chocolate guilt-free, few of these people are actually informed of the validity, or lack

thereof, in this claim. Exploration of the scientific support of this claim is vital to an accurate

portrayal of the facts versus the fiction.

        The source of dark chocolate’s power to lower blood pressure was found, in a 1996 study

under Andrew Waterhouse, to be a result of the presence of cocoa phenols. Cocoa phenols are a

type of antioxidant that lowers blood pressure by controlling the buildup of arterial plaque.

Instead of allowing low-density lipoprotein (L.D.L.) cholesterol to build up inside arterial walls,

cocoa phenols were actually found to prevent this from occurring. Other studies have confirmed

these findings. (Yale-New Haven 1)

        Dirk Taubert, a researcher at the University of Cologne, Germany, facilitated a study that

was designed to exclusively explore the relationship between blood pressure and cocoa phenols

found in dark chocolate. In his study, thirteen middle-aged men and women were each given one

100-gram chocolate bar every day for fourteen days. Participants were either given a dark

chocolate bar that contained cocoa phenols, or they were given a white chocolate bar. The white

chocolate bar served as a control because it did not contain cocoa phenols. All of the participants

had documented blood pressure levels above the normal range at the beginning of the study.

When the fourteen days were over, the participant’s blood pressure levels were measured. The
results of the study showed that cocoa phenols do have a lowering effect on blood pressure

because those who received the dark chocolate bar had an average drop of 5 points of systolic

blood pressure and 2 points of diastolic blood pressure. However, the participants who were

given white chocolate bars did not display any documentable blood pressure changes. (Denoon

1)

       In 2007, Dr. Taubert conducted a follow-up to his original study. This follow-up study

was designed to account for the unrealistic variables present in the first study. For example, the

first study was done over a very short period of time, only two weeks. In addition, the daily

chocolate dose of 100 grams was unrealistically high. In order to address these issues, Dr.

Taubert redesigned the follow-up study so that blood pressure measurements were taken

periodically for eighteen weeks. Also, the daily dose of chocolate (whether white or dark

chocolate) was reduced from 100 grams to about 6 grams per day. Having addressed the

variables of duration and dose, Dr. Taubert and his colleagues were able to apply the results of

this second study much more pointedly. (Nordmoe 2)

       The results of the second study did not disappoint the public. Using various t-tests and

linear correlation and regression analysis, Dr. Taubert found statistically significant decreases in

blood pressure in the group of participants who were given the small dose of dark chocolate as

opposed to the small dose of white chocolate (Nordmoe 2). From this study, considered by many

to be the pivotal study on health benefits of dark chocolate, the health claim that dark chocolate’s

cocoa phenols lower blood pressure finds its validity and scientific support. Due to the well-

researched and thoroughly-documented nature of this health claim, I personally recommend

consuming a moderate amount of dark chocolate at least three to four times per week.

Moderation is the key, however, and if consumers do not closely monitor their consumption of
dark chocolate, caloric content could easily climb too high. As long as consumers are careful to

incorporate dark chocolate into a healthy and well-balanced diet, the benefits of dark chocolate

are worth the extra calories.
                                        Works Cited

"Chocolate: Food of the gods." Yale-New Haven Nutrition Advisor 10 Mar 2005: n. pag. Web. 22

       Feb 2010. <http://www.ynhh.org/online/nutrition/advisor/chocolate.html>.



Denoon, Daniel. "Dark Chocolate Is Healthy Chocolate." WebMD News 27 Aug 2003: 1-2. Web.

       22 Feb 2010. < http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20030827/dark-chocolate-is-healthy-

       chocolate>.



Nordmoe, Eric. "Kiss High Blood Pressure Goodbye: The Relationship between Dark Chocolate

       and Hypertension." Teaching Statistics Trust 2008: 1-5. Web. 22 Feb 2010.

       <http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/119398884/PDFSTART>.

				
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