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Is Chocolate Really Good for You?

What’s in chocolate that is good for us?

  • Cacao-Concentrations of >70% are most beneficial
  • Flavonoids-antioxidants such as epicatechin, catechin, and procyanidins
  • Contains Vitamin D

Why should we eat chocolate?

  • Promotes heart health– Flavanols may protect the heart by reducing inflammation, clotting, and oxidation, and blood pressure. The flavonoids release nitric oxide, which dilate blood vessels and can reduce risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke. Dark chocolate lowers blood pressure and reduces cholesterol. Servings of 3-6 times per week show the greatest effect. Studies support that a lower risk of heart attack is correlated with moderate chocolate consumption.
  • Reduces chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes– Dark chocolate improves blood sugar by significantly lowering insulin resistance and significantly improving insulin sensitivity. Some studies have shown lower rates of obesity in people who regulatory consume chocolate. What is known as the oligomer-rich fraction of the chocolate is likely most responsible.
  • Improves immunity-A study demonstrated that drinking cocoa can improve immunity to viral infections such as influenza.
  • May improve tissue oxygenation-Through increasing the ability for oxygen to reach your tissues due to its positive effects on red blood cells
  • Improves brain function-Improves neuroplasticity, which could improve memory and cognition. Older-aged people who regularly eat chocolate score better on cognition tests and show less cognitive decline. College students also were shown to have better memory when eating chocolate.
  • Boosts your mood-Dark chocolate promotes a sense of calm and contentment, and can improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety. One study showed that eating chocolate mindfully, particularly, improved mood.

How can we enhance the effects of chocolate?

  • Eat Chocolate as close as possible to its natural raw state-this provides a higher nutritional value as the raw state (cacao) has the most benefits. Dark chocolate is preferable to milk chocolate.
  • Consume Pre-biotics-Our gut bacteria break down and ferment the components in dark chocolate, turning them into anti-inflammatory compounds. Eating cocoa with prebiotics may increase the conversion and absorption of anti-inflammatory compounds in your stomach.
  • Eat anti-oxidant foods with dark chocolate-Eating dark chocolate with antioxidant rich solid fruits such as pomegranate or acai can promote its positive effects.

Bottom line-Is chocolate really good for you? YES! Moderate amounts of chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, high in cacao, is great for your mind, body, and spirit?

Studies in animals suggest that cacao may also have anti-cancer effects. Cacao is currently being studied for its potential anti-cancer effects as well as its potential role in impacting Alzheimer’s disease.

Resources:

Actis-Goretta, L.; Ottaviani, J.I.; Fraga, C.G. Inhibition of angiotensin converting enzyme activity by flavanol-rich foods. J. Agric. Food Chem. 200654, 229–234.

Alkerwi, A, Sauvageot, N, Crichton, GE, Elias, MF, Stranges, S. Daily chocolate consumption is inversely associated with insulin resistance and liver enzymes in the Observation of Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Luxembourg study. Br J Nutr. 2016 Mar 17:1-8. Epub 2016 Mar 17. PMID: 26983749

Rull, G, Mohd-Zain, ZN, Shiel, J, Lundberg, MH, Collier, DJ, Johnston, A, Warner, TD, Corder, R. Effects of high flavanol dark chocolate on cardiovascular function and platelet aggregation. Vascul Pharmacol. 2015 Aug ;71:70-8. Epub 2015 Apr 11. PMID: 25869509

Castell, M.; Saldana-Ruiz, S.; Rodriguez-Lagunas, M.J.; Franch, A.; Perez-Cano, F.J. Second International Congress on Chocolate and Cocoa in Medicine Held in Barcelona, Spain, 25–26th September 2015. Nutrients 20157, 9785–9803.

Corti, R.; Flammer, A.J.; Hollenberg, N.K.; Luscher, T.F. Cocoa and cardiovascular health. Circulation 2009119, 1433–1441

Dubner LWang JHo LWard LPasinetti GM. Recommendations for Development of New Standardized Forms of Cocoa Breeds and Cocoa Extract Processing for the Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease: Role of Cocoa in Promotion of Cognitive Resilience and Healthy Brain Aging. J Alzheimers Dis. 2015 ;48(4):879-89. PMID: 26402120.

Hooper, L.; Kay, C.; Abdelhamid, A.; Kroon, P.A.; Cohn, J.S.; Rimm, E.B.; Cassidy, A. Effects of chocolate, cocoa, and flavan-3-ols on cardiovascular health: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2012, 95, 740–751.

Kamei, M, Nishimura, H, Takahashi, T, Takahashi, N, Inokuchi, K, Mato, T, Takahashi. K. Anti-influenza virus effects of cocoa. J Sci Food Agric. 2016 Mar ;96(4):1150-8. Epub 2015 Apr 27. PMID: 25847473

Kuebler, U, Arpagaus, A, Meister, RE, von Känel, R, Huber, S, Ehlert, U, Wirtz, PH. Dark chocolate attenuates intracellular pro-inflammatory reactivity to acute psychosocial stress in men: A randomized controlled trial. Brain Behav Immun. 2016 Apr 28. Epub 2016 Apr 28. PMID: 27091601

Kuhn, J, Schröter A, Hartmann, BM, Stangl, GI. Cocoa and chocolate are sources of vitamin D. Food Chem. 2018 Dec 15 ;269:318-320. Epub 2018 Jun 20. PMID: 30100440

Larsson SCÅkesson AGigante BWolk A.Chocolate consumption and risk of myocardial infarction: a prospective study and meta-analysis. Heart. 2016 Jul 1 ;102(13):1017-22. Epub 2016 Mar 2. PMID: 26936339

Meier, BP, Noll, SW,Molokwu, OJ. The sweet life: The effect of mindful chocolate consumption on mood. Appetite. 2017 Jan 1 ;108:21-27. Epub 2016 Sep 15. PMID: 

Moreira, A, Diógenes, MJ, Mendonça, A, Lunet, N, Barros, H. Chocolate Consumption is Associated with a Lower Risk of Cognitive Decline. J Alzheimers Dis. 2016 May 6. Epub 2016 May 6. PMID: 27163823

Radosinska J, Horvathova M Frimmel KMuchova JVidosovicova MVazan RBernatova I. Acute dark chocolate ingestion is beneficial for hemodynamics via enhancement of erythrocyte deformability in healthy humans. Nutr Res. 2017 Mar 7. Epub 2017 Mar 7. PMID: 28314639

Saadatdoust, z, Pandurangan, AK, Sadagopan, SKA, Esa, NM, Ismail, A, Mustafa, MR. Dietary cocoa inhibits colitis associated cancer: a crucial involvement of the IL-6/STAT3 pathway. J Nutr Biochem. 2015 Aug 10. Epub 2015 Aug 10. PMID: 26355019

Yuan, S, Li, X, Jin, Y, Lu, J. Chocolate Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies

Nutrients 2017, 9(7), 688; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9070688

https://www.mercola.com/infographics/dark-chocolate-benefits.htm
https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/04/21/chocolate-flavanols.aspx
https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-dark-chocolate-can-reduce-stress-and-inflammation
http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/chocolate-greatest-health-news-all

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