Chocolate-cocoa connexion – low blood pressure, reduced cavities…
Care to give up prescription drugs for hypertension for a cup of hot chocolate?
Want a sweeter reason not to brush teeth with fluoride?
Research has been consistently revealing the wonders of cocoa-chocolate and its health-enhancing chemical composition.
A doctoral student at Louisiana’s Tulane University has discovered a natural food compound that beats fluoride’s anti-cavity power.
Researchers in Japan reported that cocoa bean husks and water-soluble cocoa extracts suppress decay-causing bacteria and plaque formation, and proposed their use to deter tooth decay.
The newly proven enamel enhancer in tea and cocoa turns out to be theobromine, a far milder chemical cousin of caffeine. show that this chemical strengthens teeth better than fluoride.
Theobromine outperforms fluoride at protecting teeth from bacteria-generated enamel-eroding acids, and it works these wonders at concentrations equal to those in which sodium fluoride is added to standard toothpastes.
It is known for many years that tea helps prevent tooth decay. But it was thought that the polyphenol antioxidants in tea were solely responsible.
Catechins and theaflavins, polyphenolic compounds derived from tea have been reported to have a wide range of biological activities including prevention of tooth decay and oral cancer.
The benefits are attributed to tea extend to cocoa and dark chocolate, both of which are also rich in tea-type polyphenols as well as theobromine.
In recent years, researchers in Japan have published research showing that cocoa bean husks and water-soluble cocoa extracts suppress decay-causing bacteria and plaque formation, and proposed their use to deter tooth decay.
Theobromine is the primary alkaloid found in cocoa and chocolate; chocolate contains 0.5-2.7% theobromine. Theobromine can also be found in small amounts in the kola nut (1.0-2.5%), the guarana berry, and the tea plant.
More research is throwing up very interesting results.
While theobromine and caffeine are similar in that they are related alkaloids, theobromine has a lesser impact on the human central nervous system and it stimulates the heart to a greater degree, even though theobromine while not as addictive,t has been cited as possibly causing addiction to chocolate.
A Sexual Odyssey: From Forbidden Fruit to Cybersex discusses how chocolate’s alleged aphrodisiac effects may be caused by a number of factors. These include the stimulative effects of theobromine, pleasure induced by the hypothalamus as an effect of chocolate’s sweet and fatty nature, or how chocolate affects the levels of serotonin. While serotonin has a pleasurable effect, in high concentrations it can be converted to melatonin which in large amounts reduces sexual drive.
Harvard researchers are now praising cocoa’s qualities as shown from information on the Kuna Indians.
According to recent estimates, nearly 1-in-3 American adults has high blood pressure. But for the Kuna Indians living on a group of islands off the Caribbean coast of Panama, hypertension doesn’t even exist. In fact, after age 60, the average blood pressure for Kuna Indian islanders is a perfect 110/70.
Is it because they eat less salt? Is it because of their genes? No. to both. Moreover, Kuna Indians who move away from the islands are just as likely to suffer from high blood pressure as anyone else!
So what makes these folks practically “immune” to hypertension — and lets them enjoy much lower death rates from heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and cancer?
Harvard researchers were stunned to discover it’s because they drink about 5 cups of cocoa each day.
Studies show the flavonols in cocoa stimulate your body’s production of nitric oxide — boosting blood flow to your heart, brain, and other organs. In fact, one study found cocoa thins your blood just as well as low-dose aspirin!
In addition, a Harvard Medical School professor claims cocoa can also treat blocked arteries, congestive heart failure, stroke, dementia, even impotence!
Potential health benefits and risks
Recent studies have suggested that cocoa or dark chocolate may possess certain beneficial effects on human health. Dark chocolate, with its high cocoa content, is a rich source of the flavonoids epicatechin and gallic acid, which are thought to possess cardioprotective properties.
Cocoa possesses a significant antioxidant action, protecting against LDL oxidation, perhaps more than other polyphenol antioxidant-rich foods and beverages. Processing cocoa with alkali destroys most of the flavonoids.
Some studies have also observed a modest reduction in blood pressure and flow-mediated dilation after consuming approximately 100g of dark chocolate daily.
There has even been a fad diet, named “Chocolate diet”, that emphasizes eating chocolate and cocoa powder in capsules. However, consuming milk chocolate or white chocolate, or drinking fat-containing milk with dark chocolate, appears largely to negate the health benefit.
Processed cocoa powder (so called Dutch chocolate), processed with alkali greatly reduces the antioxidant capacity as compared to “raw” cocoa powder.
Chocolate is also a calorie-rich food with a high fat content, so daily intake of chocolate also requires reducing caloric intake of other foods. Two-thirds of the fat in chocolate comes in the forms of a saturated fat called stearic acid and a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. However, unlike other saturated fats, stearic acid does not raise levels of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Consuming relatively large amounts of dark chocolate and cocoa does not seem to raise serum LDL cholesterol levels; some studies even find that it could lower them.
Theobromine has a bitter flavour, which gives dark chocolate its typical bitter taste.
However, it seems that although theobromine does not cause harmful effects with humans, it is highly toxic to some domestic animals, including dogs and horses. With the animals, theobromine can lead to cardiac arrhythmias and seizures.
Amazing how foods from the kitchen can be so good for you. Pure cocoa preferable to cocoa processed with alkali.
Source: Bottom Line Secrets, Wikipedia, Vital Choice, Phytochemicals Information,