Chocolate the collection of natural benefits. The compound polyphenols in cocoa beans have been associated benefiting the heart, brain, and liver. Now once again science has taken interest in its benefits as a medicine, this time to lower bad cholesterol.
A study published in the journal Diabetic Medicine, tested the results of polyphenol-rich chocolate in a group of 12 subject volunteers, all of which had type-2 diabetes. Sixteen weeks later the researchers at Hull University located in the United Kingdom, found that the polyphenols aided in lowering the participants bad cholesterol levels while at the same time higher the good cholesterol levels.
Professor Steve Akin, writer for the study stated that chocolate which has a high cocoa content should be part of the diet for persons with type-2 diabetes.
In August of this year, Swedish researchers had also discovered similar results in their study. Their results indicated that high flavaonal chocolate which is processed minimally is greatly different from high processed chocolate candy sold in stores.
Real cocoa beans are full of necessary nutrients that include alkaloid bitters that stimulates heart muscles and increases blood vessels. Compounds such as this among others give demonstrated benefits in lowering high blood pressure and keeping arteries healthy.
Please take note however, that pressed chocolate has most of its nutrients removed. When adding in the bad fats and sugar, you end up with a chocolate product that is bad for your health. When consuming chocolate buy unprocessed, super-food varieties. Some of these manufactures are Transition Nutrition, Gnosis, Sacred Chocolate and Wild Bar.
Chocolate aiding the heart
Chocolate and cocoa as we know are made from the cocoa bean, one of the most valuable sources of flavanols(polyphenolic antioxidants). The two main ones are catechin and epicatechin, whose form is much like that of antioxidants which are found in red wine, grapes and tea. Chocolate is ranked as number three in the leading sources of antioxidants in the United States, following coffee and tea which is number one.
The flavanols in chocolate and cocoa aide in heart health.
Researchers had studied the effects of chocolate on the rate of lipid oxidation and on the extent of atherosclerosis.
In the first experiment performed human plasma was incubated using either warm/menthol mix or water/menthol chocolate extract in order to attach any flavanols to the lipoprotiens. The low density proteins where then isolated from the plasma treated mixes. Next, divalent copper oxidant was added to both mixtures. The appearance rate of oxidized fatty acids were measured. The lipoprotiens which had been treated with chocolate stayed unoxidized a lot longer than the other mixture. This had showed that the flavanols guard the lipoprotiens from oxidation.
The second and third experiments different in nature but showed the same results.
The findings had shown that flavanols in chocolate actually aide in the prevention of oxidative harm and guard against atherosclerosis.
A study was conducted which had demonstrated that the flavanols in cocoa improve blood flow.
This study had consisted of 16 healthy men. At random each was assigned to drink cocoa that was either high or low in flavanols. At the halfway point of the study subjects had reversed drinks. Researchers took measurements of blood flavanols levels, flow-mediated dilation of blood vessels and nitric oxide production.
Researchers found blood vessel dilation had increased in diameter. In brief cocoa had proved to improve blood flow.
In a study to show if chocolate flavanols can react like aspirin for blood clotting, researchers conducted a study of thirty men and women. Their goal was to find the reaction of flavanol rich cocoa on platelet activation and the rate of homeostasis. Subjects received one of three drinks either flavanol rich cocoa made with water, caffeine in water or pure water. Blood samples were taken at two and six hours later and the blood underwent three different tests.
The first test measured the effect of platelet activation after consuming cocoa. The percent of activated platelets was lower after cocoa consumption.
The second test measured for amount of platelets micro-particles. These numbers decreased after cocoa consumption.
The last test watched for the time it took homeostasis to happen after consumption of cocoa. Six hours after cocoa consumption it slowed down.
Results of this study indicated that cocoa reacts like aspirin to clump platelets.
Chocolate recommendations for top health benefits
The higher the amount of cocoa, the greater amount of flavanol content and health benefits. Dark chocolate is the top choice, since chocolate milk is watered down providing less effect. Chocolate which contains 70% or more of cocoa butter is stated to be the best.
Consumption levels are still unclear. On one side you have the positive effect of flavanols. Negative side is chocolate and cocoa are not calorie free. Cocoa contains fat, namely oleic, plamitic and stearic acids. Oleic is healthy for heart health put is subjective to oxidation. Stearic acid does increase the good cholesterol however, it adds calories and chocolate does contain sugar.
Please take note that since chocolate does produce a clotting effect alike aspirin, check with your health care provider if you are on a aspirin regimen.
Chocolate reduces cancer and heart disease death
In February of 2006, a study conducted by Mars (candy) and Harvard University released their findings of a ten year study. The results showed that flavanols in cocoa can greatly reduce the risk for heart disease and cancer.
The study was based on a comparison of death certificates on 1,250 Kuna Indians in Panama and the San Blas islands just off the coast. Panama Kunas did not consume cocoa on a regular basis. The San Blas consumed four to five cups of cocoa water each day. The San Blas results had showed 1,280 percent lower death risk from heart disease and 630 percent lower risk of cancer than Panama Kunas.
Keep in mind that buying chocolate is great medicine. Nearly all chocolate in the United States has a good amount of sugar and milk fat which makes it sweet. Consumption of milk chocolate bars will not prevent heart disease or cancer.
The chocolate consumption referred to is chocolate made out of 70% pure cocoa. Avoid added sugars, sweeteners and milk fat. The best form is nearly all pure raw cocoa. This type is the real bean that cocoa comes from. It has the highest rate of flavanols. Being raw means it is unprocessed. The flavanols contained in it are absorbed by the body highly due to the fact there is no sugar to interfere with the benefits it provides.
Take note that the results of this study was based on consumption of cocoa water. There was no consumption of chocolate bars or dark chocolate. They had the natural raw bitter cocoa.
There have been many studies now indicating the benefits of cocoa. There are still foods in which you can still obtain high amounts of flavanols. Some of these are green and black tea, cherries, apples, blackberries, kale and many more.