Health Benefits of Chocolate Explained
Health Benefits of Chocolate Explained
International researchers have uncovered even more healthy properties of flavanols, the antioxidants found in Cocoa Beans.
Eighteen Chocolate-centered studies; including investigations of how Cocoa might affect blood pressure, heart disease, painful nerve disorders and cancer risk were presented last Wednesday at the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting in San Diego.
Most of the studies have not yet been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, so those findings are preliminary.
Many of the studies were also small in scope, with relatively few participants, some were animal studies, and results might not translate to humans.
While larger, observational studies have shown possible health benefits from Dark Chocolate or Cocoa, this new research begins to explore how those benefits occur, explained Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“The thing to keep in mind: All of these are very small studies,” Dr. Fonarow said. “But they are important steps in investigating the mechanisms by which Chocolate or Cocoa may have beneficial cardiovascular effects.”
Several of the studies suggested that Cocoa might protect against inflammation.
“One of the presumed mechanisms by which cocoa or dark chocolate could be beneficial, or flavonoids in general, is through the mechanism of decreasing vascular inflammation,” part of the process leading to strokes and heart attack, Dr. Fonarow noted.
For instance, in a study involving obese mice, researchers found that adding Cocoa to their high-fat diet slowed down their weight gain.
The mice “have elevated body fat, fasting blood glucose and serum insulin levels. And they have markers for systemic inflammation,” said study author Joshua Lambert, an assistant professor of food science at Pennsylvania State University.
After supplementing the animals’ diets with Cocoa, “we saw that these markers of systemic inflammation went back down to the same level as they would be in mice that were on a low-fat diet,” Professor Lambert said. “So it seems like we’re able to take this inflammatory response and reduce it back to the level you see in lean mice.”
In a study from Italy, 40 people, 50% of whom were smokers, were randomly assigned to receive either Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate. Dark chocolate only was found to reduce “oxidative stress” involved in dangerous clot formation, and only in smokers.
“The results, suggesting that Dark Chocolate can reduce oxidative stress and subsequent disease in smokers are intriguing and certainly worthy of further study,” said Dr. Thomas Glynn, director of cancer science and trends and international cancer control for the American Cancer Society.
“The authors establish the biological plausibility of antioxidant effects of Dark Chocolate in a small group of smokers and demonstrate the potential harm-reducing effects for smokers of eating Dark Chocolate,” Dr. Glynn said.
But, he added, “great caution is necessary, however, in interpreting the results of studies regarding the possible health benefits of Dark Chocolate, none of the evidence to date is definitive and is based on small studies with limited duration. No one, despite the enjoyment of Dark Chocolate, should consider using it as a substitute for healthy eating, getting exercise and above all, stopping smoking.”
Also being presented at the meeting in San Diego is a meta-analysis of human research on Cocoa flavonoids and cardiac risk factors. The analysis, which combined data from 24 studies on 1,106 peope, appeared in the Journal of Nutrition last September.
“Cocoa lowered blood pressure, lowered LDL ['bad'] cholesterol, raised HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol, and improved insulin resistance,” said senior study author Eric Ding, a nutritionist, epidemiologist and faculty member at Harvard Medical School.
He said Cocoa also might have a role in dilating vessels to improve blood flow.
Mr. Ding warned not to look for health benefits from your favorite milk chocolate candy bar. “It’s not a chocolate study, it is cocoa flavonoid,” he said.
In his study, Lambert said, “we used unsweetened regular Cocoa powder. How that relates to chocolate; there’s a couple of degrees of separation. Because when you make chocolate you add fat, in the form of cocoa butter and sugar.”
Lambert added, “Nobody’s going to eat a tablespoon of Unsweetened Cocoa.” But how will people take their “medicine?”
“It’s one of those issues, should you get it in a conventional or fortified product or a supplement?” Mr. Ding said. “The dose [of cocoa-flavonoid compound] on average is 400 to 500 milligrams — equivalent to 32 bars of Milk Chocolate or 8 to 9 bars of Dark Chocolate.”
In other new research:
A study of 30 adults, published in the Journal of Proteome Research, found that eating a small amount of dark chocolate daily reduced stress hormones. This study came out of the Swiss-based Nestle Research Center, run by the chocolate-making company.
An Italian study concluded that flavanol-rich chocolate lowers blood pressure by 6 milligrams of mercury (mmHg) in systolic blood pressure (the top number) and 3 mmHg in diastolic pressure. “That magnitude of blood pressure reduction would be clinically relevant if sustained, and clearly done in placebo-controlled double-blind studies,” Fonarow said.
A small pilot study from England had people with type 2 diabetes eat high- and low-flavanol chocolate an hour before a meal. Those who ate the high-flavanol chocolate improved in some measures of heart disease risk.
In studies on rats, researchers in Missouri found evidence that cocoa ingredients soothe excitability of the trigeminal nerve, involved in migraines and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).
One rat study from Spain suggested that cocoa might reduce colon cancer risk by destroying precancerous cells, and another hinted that it offered protection from liver damage, by inhibiting enzymes involved in inflammation.
Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr. writes and publishes The Red Roadmaster’s Technical Report on the US Major Market Indices, a weekly, highly-regarded financial market letter, read by opinion makers, business leaders and organizations around the world.
Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr has studied the global financial and stock markets since 1984, following a successful business career that included investment banking, and market and business analysis. He is a specialist in equities/commodities, and an accomplished chart reader who advises technicians with regard to Major Indices Resistance/Support Levels.
Distributed via Kris Newswire: Kris Newswire offers a suite of online engagement tools to help organizations like yours disseminate news, stimulate new revenue streams, win media and consumer attention, Contact Kris Newswire Click Here
Get the Updates Daily
Be extremely careful, investing in securities carries a high degree of risk; you may likely lose some or all of the investment. You must also accept that opinions on stock markets change minute to minute, opinions expressed my change at any time without warning. Opinions maybe influenced by ad sales and other financial consideration. This site does not offer any assistance in making financial decisions.
Best Hedge Funds 2013
Working with some of the World’s largest financial institutions HCM’s goal is to provide portfolio returns that exceed the S&P 500 Index benchmark while …
UAE Economy Seeing a Spring Boom
Driven by stable high Crude Oil prices, tourism, diversification and a liberal trade policy, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) witnesses an unprecedented …
As debt-laden Dubai’s economic recovery continues, with grandiose projects making a comeback, the emirate faces some near-term maturity of debt racked up during pre-crisis years but the …
The Hot List
Enviro-Serv Inc (OTCMKTS:EVSV), Medical Marijuana Inc (OTCMKTS:MJNA)
Enviro-Serv Inc (OTCMKTS:EVSV)
EVSV had a stellar dy yesterday, ut it looks like it is just the begining of big things, good …