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Having fun, writing about the stuff I like

A Cacao Situation

Oscar Foulkes July 7, 2024 Blood Pressure Interventions No comments

Cacao vs cocoa tripped up my Wordle journey somewhere along the line. The latter, more obvious version, generally springs to mind first. I’m hoping that the former, denoting the natural powder derived from the unprocessed beans, will be a useful addition to my natural anti-hypertension remedies.

At this point I’m unable to draw any conclusions as to the therapeutic benefits of a daily 25g dose of cacao. What I can trumpet is the mood enhancing benefits of having a massive dose of ‘chocolate’ in the morning. Just the flavour is enough for the feel-good factor.

The specific elements that make the difference are the flavonols in unprocessed cacao. These are lost, to an increasing degree, the more the beans are alkalised, or ‘dutched’. This process makes the flavour more gentle, as well as making the cocoa more suitable for use in baking. However, it is possible to buy non-alkalised cacao.

Several studies have been done on the therapeutic benefits of chocolate. In summary, white chocolate is of no benefit and dark chocolate is better than milk.

I decided to go straight to source (i.e. cacao) by mixing roughly 25g with a little hot water, then adding a teaspoon or more of honey, completing the mixture with two tablespoons of plain yoghurt. This is an admittedly full-on hit of intense chocolate, but dark is my preference, so this a very happy space for me.

The specific therapeutic impact on high blood pressure is the resulting increase in nitric oxide.

In a few weeks time, if/when coffee is removed from my diet, this could be turned into an effective hot drink substitute, using milk instead of yoghurt.

My summary of the past week would have to be something along the lines of “I just don’t know”. Due to various factors, I was not able to fit in any intervals this week, but the cycling I did do had a good dose of high effort, not to mention volume.

The highest BP readings of the week were recorded after a night of nine hours’ sleep, which is unheard of for me. Perhaps I was suffering the effects of a long drive the day before, along with general fatigue.

One of the week’s discoveries is that the fatigue that results from over-training can increase blood pressure. Clearly a balance needs to be maintained!

This week’s plan is to do just one session of intervals, with a couple of zone 2 rides when weather permits. Cacao remains on the programme, and wine will be removed. If all the wagging fingers are correct, I’ll see changes within a week, or so.

In the absence of any decrease in my blood pressure this week, I’m looking for anything that can denote a step forward. The daily cacao regime I started has to count as an entirely guilt-free way of having chocolate. I’ll take my wins wherever I can get them!

The Week in Numbers

BP: 156/88
Bike: 2:31 on tar, mostly zone 2 with 35% in zone 3

BP: 145/89

BP: 142/86

BP: 143/91

BP: 149/93
Bike: 2:07 on tar and gravel, mostly zone 2, with about 40% shared between zones 3 and 4.

BP: 148/86

BP: 148/86
Bike: 2:32 on tar and trail, roughly half in zone 2, balance shared between zones 3 & 4

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