Adelaidean - News from the University of Adelaide The University of Adelaide Australia
April 2007 Issue
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Good news for chocolate lovers

 General Practice

If you like dark chocolate and tomatoes, and have a blood pressure at the high end of the normal range, the University of Adelaide needs you for a seven-month study.

Up to 60 volunteers are required to investigate whether eating chocolate or tomato extract on a daily basis can lower blood pressure.

Dr Karin Ried and colleagues from the University's Discipline of General Practice say there is some evidence that both foods can lower blood pressure in people suffering from hypertension.

Studies have shown that individuals with blood pressure at the high end of the normal range (also called pre-hypertension) are likely to develop hypertension (high blood pressure) in the future.

"Blood pressure is recorded as one number over another, for example 120/80. People with blood pressure in the pre-hypertensive range (120-139 / 80-89 mm Hg) could benefit from taking these foods and prevent developing hypertension and the need for medication," Dr Ried said. "The higher the blood pressure, the higher the risk of developing diseases such as stroke and heart attack."

Participants need to meet the following requirements:

  • be 20 years or over;
  • have systolic blood pressure between 120-139 and diastolic between 80-89 mm Hg;
  • not be on any medication for blood pressure;
  • not have diabetes or glucose intolerance (pre-diabetes);
  • not suffer any allergies to chocolate or tomatoes;
  • be willing to eat 50 grams of dark chocolate (70% cocoa), or take a tomato extract, or a placebo capsule, every day for two months;
  • meet with a research nurse monthly for up to seven months.

The volunteers will be divided into three groups of 20 people each. One group will consume 50 grams of dark chocolate each day, another will take a tomato extract capsule and the remainder will be given a placebo.

The blood pressure study will start in April/May and involves Dr Oliver Frank and Professor Nigel Stocks in the School of Population Health and Clinical Practice.

For more information on the study, or to volunteer, contact Nicky Bennett or Dr Ried on 8303 3460 or email:

Story by Candy Gibson

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