Cacao, that's raw cocoa powder, or the essential ingredient in dark chocolate, is now referred to as a "super food".You always wished that this delightful food could become a staple, veritably your main sustenance, and - that's for-EVER, huh?
Now, new studies have sent the nutrition scientists directly to the press, to inform us that chocolate (especially the dark chocolate that has less sugar) may be considered to be a healthy ingredient in Canadas' Food Groups, so necessarily a part of a balanced diet for your good health.
If you are lucky, you live near a chocolatier whose business makes organic chocolate. This is a rich and bountiful luxury (being expensive) compared to the less well-endowed commercial confections. You are advised, if you wish to eat chocolate for maximum health benefits, to concentrate upon the purchase of organic chocolates, raw cocoa powder, or at least those "bittersweet" bars that are made of 70% or more of good dark cocoa.
Cocoa is called Theobroma cacao l in scientific circles. Its name is derived from the Greek for "food of the gods";(theos), meaning "god," and broma), meaning "food".
Theobroma cacao, also cacao tree and cocoa tree, is a small (4–8 m (13–26 ft) tall) evergreen tree in the family Malvaceae
native to the deep tropical regions of Central and South America, also Mexico. Its seeds are used to make cocoa powder and chocolate.
The fruit, called a cacao pod, is ovoid, 15–30 cm (5.9–12 in) long and 8–10 cm (3.1–3.9 in) wide, ripening yellow to orange, and weighs about 500 g (1.1 lb) when ripe. The pod contains 20 to 60 seeds, usually called "beans", embedded in a white pulp. The seeds are the main ingredient of chocolate, while the pulp is used in some countries to prepare a refreshing juice. Each seed contains a significant amount of fat (40–50%) as cocoa butter. Their most noted active constituent is theobromine, a compound similar to caffeine. Cacao (Theobroma cacao) belongs to the genus Theobroma classified under the subfamily Sterculioidea of the Mallow family Malvaceae. Cacao is one of 22 species of Theobroma. The specific name cacao is derived from the native name of the plant in indigenous Mesoamerican languages. The cacao was known as kakaw in Tzeltal, K’iche’ and Classic Maya; kagaw in Sayula Popoluca; and cacahuatl in Nahuatl.
Cupuaçu, Theobroma grandiflorum, is a closely related species found in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. Like cacao, it is also the source for a kind of chocolate known as cupulate or cupuaçu chocolate.
Cupuaçu is considered as having high potential by the food and cosmetics industries.
Several mixtures of cacao are described in ancient texts, for ceremonial or medicinal, as well as culinary, purposes. Some mixtures included maize, chili, vanilla (Vanilla planifolia), and honey.
"Cacao (cocoa) has been used for hundreds of years by medical professionals to cure ailments such as tuberculosis, gout, fatigue, diarrhea, weak digestion, hemorrhoids, low virility, and shortness of breath."
Cacao was also believed to be ground by the Aztecs and mixed with tobacco for smoking purposes.
The pulp that surrounds cocoa beans, was eaten as a snack and also fermented into a mildly alcoholic ritual beverage. This was also a major currency system in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations.
In early days, it was ingested for ritual purpose only by men and believed to be toxic to women and children!
In 1502, Christopher Columbus and his crew were the first of the Europeans to discover cacao.
Cocoa was introduced to the Spanish court in 1544.
French plantation developers established cacao plantations in the Caribbean due to a high demand for the beverage, while Spain developed their cacao plantations in their Philippine colony.
Three main cultivar groups of cacao beans used to make cocoa and chocolate. The most prized, rare, and expensive is the Criollo group, the cocoa bean used by the Maya. Only 10% of chocolate is made from Criollo, which is less bitter and more aromatic than any other bean. The cacao bean in 80% of chocolate is made using beans of the Forastero group. Forastero trees are significantly hardier than Criollo trees, resulting in cheaper cacao beans. Trinitario, a hybrid of Criollo and Forastero, is used in about 10% of chocolate manufacture.
LINK TO: Wikipedia, Cacao
Powdered Raw Cacao can be purchased also as nibs and mixed into coffee or milk to get the maximum polyphenol flavonoids that offer many health benefits.
'Oo cares about polyphenols', you are inclined to say? Well, certainly no-one ever thought of chocolate, a gorgeous sweet, as a proviso for what ails you, a tonic which will keep you healthy.
I knew chocolate had plenty of iron from way back when, and also nourishing lecithin, which breaks down the bad trans fat. But I had never heard of polyphenols, theobromins, even of antioxidants!
Antioxidants in cacao are the polyphenols. Good cacao is a richer - than - you - think source of these important nutrients.
200 mg of cacao daily (which equates to 10 grams of dark chocolate or 2.5 grams of high-flavonol cacao powder)can improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes when included in a balanced diet.
What's important here? You will be pleased to find that The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded earlier in 2012 that less than a daily ounce of the good stuff can improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
This became public knowledge after some serious lobbying and research from the world's largest producer of raw, bulk chocolate (Barry Callebaut of Swiss-based Callebaut Chocolate).
NB: The EFSA is Europe's version of the USA's FDA, or Canadas' Food and Drug Regulations., The Canadian Food Inspection Agency
LINK TO: Improved Cardiac health
LINK TO: Natural News.com
LINK TO: Canadas' Latest Chocolate News: A brand of dark chocolate Goji berries has been recalled because of the presence of milk, which poses an allergen threatening to some.
Northdays Image, Ottawa, On., Canada.
Yum! (That's Postal code YUM YUM, I mean.)
Cacao promotes blood flow to prevents blood platelets from coagulating and creating embolisms.
Embolisms are particles in the blood stream that will clog a heart, brain, or lungs.
You can lower your blood pressure as if from pharmaceuticals normally prescribed for hypertension, with no iatrogenic disorder.
Cacao or dark chocolate's polyphenols also reduce the risk of colorectal or colon cancer. The Science and Technology Institute of Food and Nutrition in Spain has published this study in the journal Molecular Nutrition.
"Pure cacao antioxidants rank among the highest ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) ratings of all foods, even much higher than Goji berries. Antioxidants reduce cell damage and help prevent a multitude of diseases, including Alzheimer's and cancer. After it's processed into dark chocolate, it ranks slightly below Goji berries but well above blueberries."
LINK TO: Chocolate versus Goji Berries
You can (amazingly) improve sugar metabolism: cacao doesn't promote diabetes. An Italian study claims that it may actually prevent diabetes.
Caffeine and phenylethylamine in cacao or dark chocolate increase blood flow in the brain, leading to an elevation in mood.
LINK TO: Super Health Chocolate
The cacao plant, which is what chocolate is made from, contains the same antioxidants — including catechins and phenols — found in red wine, apples, onions and grapes.
What Does Chocolate Have In Common With Onions?
"A December 2012 UK study with 300 patients in 13 hospitals used theobromine, extracted from cacao, to successfully stabilize chronic coughing. The amount used was 1000 mg of theobromine twice daily for two weeks. A dark chocolate candy bar high in cacao or cocoa contains around 450 mg of theobromine per ounce.
Since the average dark chocolate bar is three ounces, it would take slightly over 2/3 of the bar to provide that amount of theobromine. ..the coughing symptoms returned for most patients after the theobromine dosing was stopped. But another study in London, England determined that theobromine was more efficacious for coughing (than) codeine, which is what’s normally prescribed for chronic coughing."
LINK TO: Chocolate and ORAC
This is marvellous- coupled with the coffee I am now allowed to drink, I am doing just fine. A word of caution, though- if your taste is to buy dark chocolate as a foodstuff, I can vividly remember fainting , nearly, from two squares of this when I had serious trouble with blood sugar- hypoglygemia. All is well, now (after 11 sugar free years) and I can take chocolate. Until recently, I have made my chocolate bar last a week. No overdoing it!
READ MORE BY LINKING: Reasons to Eat More Chocolate
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) was used by Ian McDonald at the U of Nottingham to prove that a single drink of chocolate dilates the cerebral blood vessels, allowing more blood, and therefore more oxygen to reach key areas of the subjects' brains.
Flavanols are present in othe substances such as red wine, green tea and blueberries, though a study showed cocoa is slightly higher than these others.When presenting his research at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS),
PROFESSOR MACDONALD SAID:
"Acute consumption of this particular flavanol-rich cocoa beverage was associated with increased grey matter flow for two to three hours.
"The demonstration of an effect of consuming this particular beverage on cerebral blood flow raises the possibility that certain food ingredients may be beneficial in increasing brain blood flow and enhancing brain function, in situations where individuals are cognitively impaired such as fatigue, sleep deprivation, or possibly ageing."
Cocoa has more phenolic phytochemicals and a higher antioxidant capacity than teas and red wine.
Black tea, green tea, red wine, and cocoa are high in phenolic phytochemicals, among which theaflavin, epigallocatechin gallate, resveratrol, and procyanidin, respectively, have been extensively investigated due to their possible role as chemopreventive agents based on their antioxidant capacities.
SOURCE: J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Dec 3;51(25):7292-5.
Almost everyone loves sweets, so it is normal to want to just grab a chocolate bar, a bag of toffees, perhaps,or a tub of sour peach rings. Everyone does it, and on a diet one feels so left out, so pitiful, and so hungry.
Tell yourself, instead, about the Phenylethylamine,the antioxidants called phenols and the flavonoids?
Mark, a health and nutrition expert who has written a number of books under the title: Primal Blueprint took pity on dieters and compiled a blogged list of ways to cheat those candy urges.
"Researchers from Germany’s University Hospital of Cologne examined five studies on how cocoa affects blood pressure. The flavonoids in cocoa, procyanids, have been linked to reduction of cholesterol and blood clotting. Cacao balances blood pressure but also protects your liver, brain, and heart, stabilizes your mood, and helps detoxify your blood. * Normal blood pressure is defined as less than 120/80 mm Hg."
Flavonoids are a group of "polyphenolic compounds that occur
widely in fruit, vegetables, tea, red wine, and chocolate."
Cocoa and chocolate products have the highest concentration of flavonoids among commonly consumed food items; over 10% of the weight of cocoa powder consists of flavonoids, catechin and epicatechin.
I notice that these rockin' scientists do not hesitate to call chocolate a food item! Mark, and your desire for a size five dress are going to be tough on you!
Scientists from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center will, instead let you know that the environment and processing will influence the nutritional content of various cocoas or bars, saying that genetic and agronomic factors can 'markedly influence the contents of phytochemicals available at the time of harvest as well as postharvest handling and each recipe for finished food product.'
There is six to seven times more epicatechin than catechin in cocoa and chocolate; most studies have focused on epicatechin.
Consistent with in vitro studies, human studies indicate that small doses of epicatechin are effective antioxidants.
There is a statistically significant increase in plasma antioxidant capacity and reduction in lipid peroxides following cocoa and chocolate consumption.
These may have a sparing effect on the antioxidants in Vitamins E and c, and don't damage those vitamins in the diet.
Phenolic antioxidants have been shown to inhibit the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and mounting evidence suggests that it is the oxidized form of LDL that leads to the buildup of fatty plaques in arteries.
Extracts of cocoa powder have shown to significantly inhibit LDL oxidation in vitro.
One study suggested that LDL oxidation was inhibited by 75% through cocoa phenols, whereas, red wine inhibited LDL oxidation by 37-65%.
Antioxidant compounds such as flavanols improve endothelial function through the prevention and possible reduction of oxidative damage by prostacyclin and leukotriene.
Flavanol-rich cocoa has been shown to stimulate NO production and to significantly reduce the activities of xanthine oxidase and myeloperoxidase after ethanol-induced oxidative stress.
Polyphenols seem to benefit cardiovascular health through regulation of platelet reactivity. Cacao inhibits platelet adhesion.
Sheer stress, ischemia and reperfusion, inflammation, and disease states, such as atherosclerosis, diabetes mellitus, and hypertension, can disrupt endothelial function. This then leads to an inability to regulate vascular tone.
WAY MORE TO READ AT: Pennington Nutrition Series, Number 1, 2005
Authors: Heli Roy PhD, RD; Shanna Lundy, BS; Beth KalickiDivision of Education Phillip Brantley PhD, Director
Reperfusion injury is the tissue damage caused when blood supply returns to the tissue after a period of ischemia or lack of oxygen. The absence of oxygen and nutrients from blood during the ischemic period creates a condition in which the restoration of circulation results in inflammation and oxidative damage through the induction of oxidative stress rather than restoration of normal function.
Diane Becker, MPH, ScD, a researcher with the John Hopkins University School of Medicine. Becker's research found that blood platelets clotted more slowly in people who had eaten chocolate than in those who had not.
Decrease blood pressure and increase insulin sensitivity:
Researchers in Italy recently fed 15 healthy people 3 ounces of dark chocolate which contains no flavanol phytochemicals. After 15 days, their systolic blood pressures (the first number in a blood pressure reading), measured daily, and was found to be lower.
In a small study in England, 11/2 ounces of 85-percent cocoa dark chocolate was given to a group of adults with chronic fatigue syndrome every day for eight weeks. In the study, the participants reported feeling less fatigued after eating the chocolate.
LINK TO: CFS, The Star Press