Findings of a study of aging Dutch men have shown that cocoa consumers were half as likely to die from disease as those who did not eat it.
The lead researcher is Brian Bujisse of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in Bilthoven, who along with his colleagues measured the cocoa intake of 470 men between 1985 and 2000 in the Zutphen Elderly Study, a longitudinal look at nearly 1,000 Dutch men between 65 and 84 years of age.
24 cocoa-containing foods that the elderly men ate were identified, ranging from dark chocolate bars to chocolate spreads. Total amount of cocoa each consumed was calculated and a grams-per-day measurement was reached.
This was used to separate the men into three groups: those who ate little chocolate, a modest amount, and the most.
An average of more than four grams a day chocolate eaters had the average systolic and diastolic blood pressure as 3.7 and 2.1 mm of mercury lower than their chocolate-spurning peers.
This result did not hold true for other sweet foods nor did it vary among men who also smoked, were inactive or consumed a lot of alcohol.
Although the chocolate definitely decreased blood pressure and prolonged life, the two were not statistically related, according to the researchers.
As stated by the authors, "Our findings, therefore, suggest that the lower cardiovascular mortality risk related with cocoa intake is mediated by mechanisms other than lowering blood pressure. Because cocoa is a rich source of antioxidants, it may also be related to other diseases that are linked to oxidative stress (e.g. pulmonary diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and certain types of cancer)."