Chocolate Better for Your Heart Than Tea, Study Suggests

You'd love a piece of chocolate, but you've heard about the health benefits of green tea. What to do?

New research suggests: Follow your heart.

When it comes to lowering blood pressure, a piece of dark chocolate beats green tea, hands down.

A survey released Monday is one of the first to be done on chocolate and shows that cocoa's polyphenols, or flavonoids, help lower high blood pressure, Dirk Taubert, senior lecturer in pharmacology and toxicology at the University Hospital of Cologne and lead author of the report, told HealthDay News.

Click here to read the full report.

Taubert's team's report included 10 studies on cocoa with 173 participants and five tea studies with 343 participants.

The tea trials yielded no reduction in blood pressure.

Tea and cocoa contain different polyphenols — flavan-3-ols in tea, procyanids in cocoa, the researchers said.

"Based on our analysis, regular consumption of polyphenol-rich cocoa products like dark chocolate may be considered a part of a blood pressure-lowering diet, provided there is no total gain in calorie intake," Taubert told HealthDay News.

"However, in the studies we reviewed, the blood pressure results occurred with cocoa doses above the habitual intake and were observed only in the setting of short-term interventions."

What does this mean, exactly? The effects on an average sweet-toothed chocoholic are unknown.

"To date, it is not known whether long-term intake of small habitual amounts of cocoa, such as a small bar or piece of chocolate per day, may also cause significant blood pressure effects," Taubert told HealthDaily News.