Next time you want to go for a workout, or maybe just want to lower your blood pressure maybe you should consider a block of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is abundant in flavanols which have been reported to increase the bioavailability and bioactivity of nitric oxide (NO). Increasing NO bioavailability has often demonstrated reduced oxygen cost and performance enhancement during submaximal exercise.
In this study of 9 cyclists Dark chocolate increased an number of measures to show improved performance including established gas exchange threshold (GET) and a two-minute time-trial (TT) as well as V.O2max by 6% .
Of late dietary supplementation with sodium nitrate or nitrate rich beetroot juice has become increasingly popular and has consistently been shown to reduce oxygen demands during submaximal exercise and resting blood pressure (BP). Recent studies have shown similar vascular improvements in NO levels from consumption of dark chocolate (DC) and previous studies have shown benefits in improving and lowering blood pressure in both normal and hypertensive patients. One study also reported reduced blood pressure from consumption of dark chocolate in overweight participants, demonstrating DC may decrease cardiovascular risk and enhance the cardiovascular benefits of moderate intensity exercise in at-risk individuals.