The cocoa bean, and tasty products derived from the cocoa bean such as chocolate, and the beverage cocoa, popular with many people worldwide, is rich in specific antioxidants particularly polyphenols, with the basic structure of catechins and epicatechin, and especially the polymers procyanidins, similar to those found in vegetables and tea. Metabolic epidemiological studies indicate that regular intake of such products increases the plasma level of antioxidants, a desirable attribute as a defense against reactive oxygen species. The antioxidants in cocoa can prevent the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol, related to the mechanism of protection in heart disease. Likewise, a few studies show that reactive oxygen species associated with the carcinogenic processes is also inhibited, although there have not been many studies on a possible lower risk of various types of cancer either in humans or in animal models consuming cocoa butter or chocolates.
supplement capsules, 500 mg each pill
The cocoa bean - also known as cacao - and tasty products derived from the cocoa bean such as chocolate, and the beverage cocoa, popular with many people worldwide, is rich in specific antioxidants, with the basic structure of catechins and epicatechin. The alkaloids theobromine and caffeine are responsible for the stimulant effect of cocoa and chocolate and contribute to the bitter cocoa flavor.
Additional beneficial herbs and fruit extracts you may wish to consider are acai berry, curcumin extract, goji berry, mangosteen fruit, and pomegranate extract.
Get all the benefits of chocolate without the added fat and sugar. Chocolate, as consumed, even when dark, has some benefits but the fat and sugar detract from its healing powers.
Buy Cocoa supplement pill capsules
Supplement Facts: Cocoa powder 500 mg
Recommendations: One or two cocoa capsules with breakfast
Other ingredients: rice flour and gelatin.
Q. Can you tell me whether using cocoa powder from the
baking aisle in the grocery store has the same health benefits as cocoa powder
capsules that can be purchased? Are they equivalent, gram for gram?
A. Each cocoa powder from different companies has been processed differently and each would be different in their composition, there are so many types that it is not possible to know the actual beneficial chemical in the ones in the grocery stores.
Diet Rx for appetite
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Benefits of Diet Rx
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Cocoa contains polyphenols, theobromine, phenylethylamine, anadamide, phenylalanine and tyrosine.
Cocoa consumption is correlated with reduced health risks of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, atherosclerosis, and cancer, and the health-promoting effects of cocoa are mediated by cocoa-driven phytochemicals. Among the phytochemicals present in consumed cocoa, theobromine is most available in human plasma, followed by caffeine, (-)-epicatechin, catechin, and procyanidins. It has been reported that cocoa phytochemicals specifically modulate or interact with specific molecular targets linked to the pathogenesis of chronic human diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, obesity, diabetes, and skin aging.
Polyphenolic substances derived from cocoa powder may contribute to a reduction in LDL cholesterol, an elevation in HDL cholesterol, and the suppression of oxidized LDL.
Cocoa has a high content in polyphenols, especially flavonols. Flavonols exert a beneficial effect on endothelium-derived vasodilation via the stimulation of nitric oxide-synthase (NOS), and the decreased degradation of NO. Cocoa may also have a beneficial effect via the decreased platelet aggregation, the decreased lipid oxidation and insulin resistance. These effects are associated with a modest decrease of blood pressure and a favorable trend towards a reduction in cardiovascular events and strokes.
Cocoa and Alzheimer's
It may help prevent amyloid beta protein inhibition which may be beneficial in Alzheimer's prevention.
Cocoa and Blood Pressure
Eating dark chocolate may help lower blood pressure, boost normal responses to insulin to keep blood sugar levels down, and improve blood vessel function in patients with high blood pressure, according to new research findings. All of these effects would be expected to decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke. The report in the July, 2005 journal Hypertension is just the most recent to link dark chocolate with beneficial health effects. In an earlier study, consumption of the bittersweet candy reduced blood pressure and increased insulin sensitivity in healthy subjects. Cocoa ingestion may help form more nitric oxide. Inclusion of small amounts of polyphenol-rich dark chocolate as part of a usual diet reduces BP and improves formation of vasodilative nitric oxide.
Cancer protective properties of cocoa: a review of the epidemiologic evidence.
Nutr Cancer. 2009.
Due to their high concentration of catechins and procyanidins, bioactive compounds with distinct properties, cocoa and chocolate products may have beneficial health effects against oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, risk factors for cancer and other chronic diseases. This review focuses on the epidemiologic evidence for protective effects against cancer and overall mortality. The very small number of observational epidemiologic studies offers weak support for a reduction in mortality and little data related to cancer, whereas several intervention studies, despite their short duration, have reported some favorable changes in biomarkers assessing antioxidant status but very few findings related to inflammatory markers. In moderation, cocoa products may offer strong antioxidant effects in combination with a pleasurable eating experience. The benign profile of its fatty acids in combination with the low content of sugar of dark chocolate should lessen concerns about the adverse effects of cocoa products. Future nutritional trials need to assess a larger number of biomarkers that may be relevant for cancer risk, whereas epidemiologic studies require valid dietary assessment methods to examine the association of cocoa products with cancer risk in larger populations and to distinguish possible cancer protective effects of cocoa products from those due to other polyphenolic compounds.
Cocoa powder and cholesterol
Continuous intake of polyphenolic compounds containing cocoa powder reduces LDL oxidative susceptibility and has beneficial effects on plasma HDL-cholesterol concentrations in humans1,2
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007. Institute of Environmental Science for Human Life, Ochanomizu University, Tokyo, Japan.
Cocoa powder is rich in polyphenols such as catechins and procyanidins and has been shown in various models to inhibit LDL oxidation and atherogenesis. We examined whether long-term intake of cocoa powder alters plasma lipid profiles in normocholesterolemic and mildly hypercholesterolemic human subjects. Twenty-five subjects were randomly assigned to ingest either 12 g sugar/d (control group) or 26 g cocoa powder and 12 g sugar/d (cocoa group) for 12 wk. At 12 wk, we measured a 9% prolongation from baseline levels in the lag time of LDL oxidation in the cocoa group. This prolongation in the cocoa group was significantly greater than the reduction measured in the control group (–13%). A significantly greater increase in plasma HDL cholesterol (24%) was observed in the cocoa group than in the control group (5%). A negative correlation was observed between plasma concentrations of HDL cholesterol and oxidized LDL. This reduction in the cocoa group was significantly greater than the reduction in the control group (–1%). Conclusion: It is possible that increases in HDL-cholesterol concentrations may contribute to the suppression of LDL oxidation and that polyphenolic substances derived from cocoa powder may contribute to an elevation in HDL cholesterol.
Preventive effects of a cocoa-enriched diet on gingival oxidative stress in experimental periodontitis.
J Periodontol. 2009; Tomofuji T, Ekuni D, Azuma T, Endo Y, Tamaki N, Sanbe T, Murakami J, Yamamoto T, Morita M. Department of Preventive Dentistry, Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry, and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Okayama, Japan.
Oxidative stress affects the progression of periodontitis. Cocoa is a rich source of flavonoids with antioxidant properties, which could suppress gingival oxidative stress in periodontal lesions. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effects of a cocoa-enriched diet on gingival oxidative stress in a rat-periodontitis model. Rats with experimental periodontitis that were fed a regular diet showed an increase in the level of serum reactive oxygen metabolites in a time-dependent manner. These rats also had an increased 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine level and decreased reduced/oxidized glutathione ratio in the gingival tissue, inducing alveolar bone loss and polymorphonuclear leukocyte infiltration. Although experimental periodontitis was induced in the rats fed a cocoa-enriched diet, they did not show impairments in serum reactive oxygen metabolite level and gingival levels for 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine and reduced/oxidized glutathione ratio. Alveolar bone loss and polymorphonuclear leukocyte infiltration after ligature placement were also inhibited by cocoa intake. Consuming a cocoa-enriched diet could diminish periodontitis-induced oxidative stress, which, in turn, might suppress the progression of periodontitis.
Cocoa and Heart Disease
A few squares of dark chocolate every day might cut the risk of serious heart disease by helping to stave off the hardening of arteries. Researchers from University Hospital in Zurich studied 20 male smokers, who are at greater risk of hardening arteries characteristic of coronary heart disease, to see the effects of dark and white chocolate on arterial blood flow. The subjects, who were asked to abstain from eating foods rich in antioxidants for 24 hours, were given 40 grams (2 ounces) of chocolate to eat. After two hours, ultrasound scans revealed that dark chocolate -- made up of 74 percent cocoa solids -- significantly improved the smoothness of arterial flow, whilst white chocolate, with four percent cocoa, had no effect.
Scientists at the Harvard University School of Public Health examined hundreds of studies on cocoa -- the foundation for chocolate -- and found cocoa does seem to boost heart health. "Studies have shown heart benefits from increased blood flow, less platelet stickiness and clotting, and improved bad cholesterol," says Mary B. Engler, Ph.D., a cocoa researcher and director of the Cardiovascular and Genomics Graduate Program at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing. These benefits are the result of cocoa antioxidant chemicals known as flavonoids, which seem to prevent both cell damage and inflammation.
Effect of cocoa powder on the modulation of inflammatory biomarkers in
patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2009; Monagas M, Khan N, Casas R, Urpí-Sardà M, Llorach R, Lamuela-Raventós RM, Estruch R.Department of Internal Medicine, Hospital Clínic, Institut d'Investigació Biomèdica August Pi i Sunyer, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.
Epidemiologic studies have suggested that flavonoid intake plays a critical role in the prevention of coronary heart disease. Because atherosclerosis is considered a low-grade inflammatory disease, some feeding trials have analyzed the effects of cocoa (an important source of flavonoids) on inflammatory biomarkers, but the results have been controversial. The objective was to evaluate the effects of chronic cocoa consumption on cellular and serum biomarkers related to atherosclerosis in high-risk patients. Forty-two high-risk volunteers (19 men and 23 women) were included in a randomized crossover feeding trial. All subjects received 40 g cocoa powder with 500 mL skim milk/d (C+M) or only 500 mL skim milk/d (M) for 4 wk. Before and after each intervention period, cellular and serum inflammatory biomarkers related to atherosclerosis were evaluated. No significant changes in the expression of adhesion molecules on T lymphocyte surfaces were found between the C+M and M groups. However, in monocytes, the expression of VLA-4, CD40, and CD36 was significantly lower after C+M intake than after M intake. In addition, serum concentrations of the soluble endothelium-derived adhesion molecules P-selectin and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 were significantly lower after C+M intake than after M intake. These results suggest that the intake of cocoa polyphenols may modulate inflammatory mediators in patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease. These antiinflammatory effects may contribute to the overall benefits of cocoa consumption against atherosclerosis.
Epidemiological studies suggest that high flavonoid intake found in cocoa confers a benefit on cardiovascular outcome. Researchers examined the effects of flavonoid-rich cocoa in dark chocolate on blood-vessel function in 17 young, healthy volunteers over a 3-hour period after they consumed 100 grams of a commercially available dark chocolate. The investigators saw that an artery in the arm dilated significantly more in response to an increase in bloodflow. Cocoa consumption also led to a significant 7-percent decrease in aortic stiffness. The predominant mechanism appears to be dilation of small and medium-sized peripheral arteries and arterioles. The team didn't detect any change in antioxidant levels, so they suggest other possible explanations. The dilatory effect of chocolate under resting conditions can be attributed to improved nitric oxide bioavailability, prostacyclin increase, direct effect of cocoa in smooth muscle cells, or activation of central mechanisms. American Journal of Hypertension, June 2005.
In a group of elderly men, those who consumed the most cocoa had a 50 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease or any cause compared to those who did not drink cocoa or eat cocoa-containing foods. Cocoa is known to lower blood pressure, though previous studies have disagreed about whether it staves off heart disease over the long-term particularly since it is contained in foods high in fat, sugar and calories. The new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that it was not lower blood pressure that corresponded to the finding of a lower overall risk of death -- although the biggest cocoa consumers did have lower blood pressure and fewer cases of fatal heart disease than non- cocoa users. Instead, the report credited antioxidants and flavonols found in cocoa with boosting the functioning of cells that line blood vessels and for lessening the risks from cholesterol and other compounds that can cause heart attacks, cancer and lung diseases. Flavonols are a class of healthy flavonoids that are found in many vegetables, green tea and red wine. The 15-year study of 470 elderly men aged 65 to 84 in Zutphen, the Netherlands, and published in February, 2006, found one-third did not eat any cocoa, while the median intake was 4 grams per day among the third who consumed the most cocoa. From 1985 to 2000, 314 of the men died, and the biggest cocoa eaters were at half the risk of dying compared to men who did not eat it.
Researchers in Germany found that women who drank an antioxidant-rich brand of hot cocoa for three months developed smoother, better-hydrated skin that was less vulnerable to sunburn. Is it possible that the improvements are due to high levels of antioxidants in cocoa? Flavonols found in cocoa can improve blood flow and blood vessel function, and this could account for the increased circulation in the skin of women who drank flavonol-rich cocoa. Chocolate giant Mars Inc. supported the current study and provided the high-flavonol cocoa -- a product called Cocoapro that the company says is harvested and processed in a way that preserves the cocoa bean's flavonol content. A cup of the cocoa also contains more than 200 calories. There is, of course, a range of lower-calorie flavonol sources such as those found in many fruits, vegetables and herbs. Journal of Nutrition, June 2006.
Cocoa is available in hot cocoa, cocoa tea, cocoa powder, and in chocolate bars. Try to find a chocolate bar that is at least 50% cocoa. There are some that are as high as 80% cocoa. Cocoa is now also available as a supplement in capsules.
Cocoa and Chocolate Production
The first stage of chocolate production consists of a natural, seven-day microbial fermentation of the pulp surrounding beans of the cocoa tree. There is a microbial succession of a wide range of yeasts, lactic-acid, and acetic-acid bacteria during which high temperatures of up to 50 degrees C and microbial products, such as ethanol, lactic acid, and acetic acid, kill the beans and cause production of flavor precursors. Over-fermentation leads to a rise in bacilli and filamentous fungi that can cause off-flavors. The physiological roles of the predominant micro-organisms are now reasonably well understood and the crucial importance of a well-ordered microbial succession in cocoa aroma has been established. It has been possible to use a synthetic microbial cocktail inoculum of just 5 species, including members of the 3 principal groups, to mimic the natural fermentation process and yield good quality chocolate. Reduction of the amount of pectin by physical or mechanical means can also lead to an improved fermentation in reduced time and the juice can be used as a high-value byproduct. To improve the quality of the processed cocoa beans, more research is needed on pectinase production by yeasts, better depulping, fermenter design, and the use of starter cultures.
Cocoa Bean Research
Chocolate and prevention of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review.
Nutr Metab (Lond). 2006.
Department of Epidemiology, Harvard University, School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
Consumption of chocolate has been often hypothesized to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) due to chocolate's high levels of stearic acid and antioxidant flavonoids. However, debate still lingers regarding the true long term beneficial cardiovascular effects of chocolate overall. We reviewed English-language MEDLINE publications from 1966 through January 2005 for experimental, observational, and clinical studies of relations between cocoa, cacao, chocolate, stearic acid, flavonoids (including flavonols, flavanols, catechins, epicatechins, and procynadins) and the risk of cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke). The body of short-term randomized feeding trials suggests cocoa and chocolate may exert beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk via effects on lowering blood pressure, anti-inflammation, anti-platelet function, higher HDL, decreased LDL oxidation. Additionally, a large body of trials of stearic acid suggests it is indeed cholesterol-neutral. However, epidemiologic studies of serum and dietary stearic acid are inconclusive due to many methodologic limitations. Meanwhile, the large body of prospective studies of flavonoids suggests the flavonoid content of chocolate may reduce risk of cardiovascular mortality. Our updated meta-analysis indicates that intake of flavonoids may lower risk of CHD mortality comparing highest and lowest tertiles. Multiple lines of evidence from laboratory experiments and randomized trials suggest stearic acid may be neutral, while flavonoids are likely protective against CHD mortality. The highest priority now is to conduct larger randomized trials to definitively investigate the impact of chocolate consumption on long-term cardiovascular outcomes.
Acute consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa and the reversal of endothelial
dysfunction in smokers.
J Am Coll Cardiol. 2005.
This study was designed to assess the effect of flavanol-rich food on the circulating pool of bioactive nitric oxide (NO) and endothelial dysfunction in smokers. Studies suggest that smoking-related vascular disease is caused by impaired NO synthesis and that diets rich in flavanols can increase bioactive nitric oxide in plasma. METHODS: In smokers (n = 11), the effects of flavanol-rich cocoa on circulating NO species in plasma (RXNO) measured by reductive gas-phase chemiluminescence and endothelial function as assessed by flow-mediated dilation (FMD) were characterized in a dose-finding study orally administering cocoa containing 88 to 370 mg flavanols and in a randomized double-blind crossover study using 100 ml cocoa drink with high (176 to 185 mg) or low (<11 mg) flavanol content on two separate days. In addition to cocoa drink, ascorbic acid and NO-synthase inhibitor L-NMMA (n = 4) were applied. The circulating pool of bioactive NO and endothelium-dependent vasodilation is acutely increased in smokers following the oral ingestion of a flavanol-rich cocoa drink. The increase in circulating NO pool may contribute to beneficial vascular health effects of flavanol-rich food.
Epicatechin and catechin in cocoa inhibit amyloid beta protein induced
J Agric Food Chem. 2005.
Department of Food Science and Technology, Cornell University, Geneva, New York
To elucidate additional health benefits of cocoa phytochemicals on the neurotoxicity induced by amyloid beta protein (Abeta), PC12 cells were treated with toxic peptide and the effects of epicatechin, catechin, and cocoa were studied. The major flavonoids of cocoa, epicatechin and catechin, protected PC12 cells from Abeta-induced neurotoxicity, suggesting that cocoa may have anti-neurodegenerative effect in addition to other known chemopreventive effects.
Influence of cocoa flavanols and procyanidins on free radical-induced human erythrocyte hemolysis.
Clin Dev Immunol. 2005.
Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis, CA
Cocoa can be a rich source of antioxidants including the flavan-3-ols, epicatechin and catechin, and their oligomers (procyanidins). While these flavonoids have been reported to reduce the rate of free radical-induced erythrocyte hemolysis in experimental animal models, little is known about their effect on human erythrocyte hemolysis. The major objective of this work was to study the effect of a flavonoid-rich cocoa beverage on the resistance of human erythrocytes to oxidative stress. A second objective was to assess the effects of select purified cocoa flavonoids, epicatechin, catechin, the procyanidin Dimer B2 and one of its major metabolites, 3'-O-methyl epicatechin, on free radical-induced erythrocyte hemolysis in vitro. Peripheral blood was obtained from 8 healthy subjects before and 1, 2, 4 and 8h after consuming a flavonoid-rich cocoa beverage that provided 0.25g/kg body weight (BW), 0.375 or 0.50g/kg BW of cocoa. Plasma flavanol and dimer concentrations were determined for each subject. Erythrocyte hemolysis was evaluated using a controlled peroxidation reaction. Epicatechin, catechin, 3'-O-methyl epicatechin and (-)-epicatechin-(4beta > 8)-epicatechin (Dimer B2) were detected in the plasma within 1 h after the consumption of the beverage. The susceptibility of erythrocytes to hemolysis was reduced significantly following the consumption of the beverages. The duration of the lag time, which reflects the capacity of cells to buffer free radicals, was increased. Consistent with the above, the purified flavonoids, epicatechin, catechin, Dimer B2 and the metabolite 3'-O-methyl epicatechin, exhibited dose-dependent protection against AAPH-induced erythrocyte hemolysis at concentrations ranging from 2.5 to 20 microM. Erythrocytes from subjects consuming flavonoid-rich cocoa show reduced susceptibility to free radical-induced hemolysis.
Short-term administration of dark
chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a
decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2005.
Numerous studies indicate that flavanols may exert significant vascular protection because of their antioxidant properties and increased nitric oxide bioavailability. In turn, nitric oxide bioavailability deeply influences insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and vascular tone. Thus, flavanols may also exert positive metabolic and pressor effects. The objective was to compare the effects of either dark or white chocolate bars on blood pressure and glucose and insulin responses to an oral-glucose-tolerance test in healthy subjects. After a 7-d cocoa -free run-in phase, 15 healthy subjects were randomly assigned to receive for 15 d either 100 g dark chocolate bars, which contained approximately 500 mg polyphenols, or 90 g white chocolate bars, which presumably contained no polyphenols. Successively, subjects entered a further cocoa -free washout phase of 7 d and then were crossed over to the other condition. Although within normal values, systolic blood pressure was lower after dark than after white chocolate ingestion (107 compared with 113 mm Hg). Dark, but not white, chocolate decreases blood pressure and improves insulin sensitivity in healthy persons.
Cocoa polyphenols and inflammatory mediators.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2005.
Cocoa products are sources of flavan-3-ols, which have attracted interest regarding cardiovascular health. This review provides a survey of our research on the effects of cocoa polyphenols on leukotriene and nitric oxide (NO) metabolism and on myeloperoxidase-induced modification of LDL. Because intake of flavonoid-rich chocolate by human subjects was reported to decrease the plasma concentrations of proinflammatory cysteinyl leukotrienes, we assessed whether cocoa polyphenols inhibited human 5-lipoxygenase, the key enzyme of leukotriene synthesis. (-)-Epicatechin and other cocoa flavan-3-ols proved to be inhibitory at the enzyme level. This action may confer antileukotriene action in vivo. In a double-blind crossover study, 20 individuals at risk for cardiovascular diseases received cocoa beverages with high or low contents of flavan-3-ols. NO-dependent, flow-mediated dilation of the brachial artery and concentrations of nitroso compounds in plasma were measured, and it was shown that ingestion of the high-flavanol coca drink but not the low-flavanol cocoa drink significantly increased plasma concentrations of nitroso compounds and flow-mediated dilation of the brachial artery. Therefore, ingested flavonoids may reverse endothelial dysfunction through enhancement of NO bioactivity. Oxidative modification of LDL appears to be crucial for atherogenesis, and one of the mediators is the proinflammatory proatherogenic enzyme myeloperoxidase. Micromolar concentrations of (-)-epicatechin or other flavonoids were found to suppress lipid peroxidation in LDL induced by myeloperoxidase in the presence of physiologically relevant concentrations of nitrite, an NO metabolite. Adverse effects of NO metabolites, such as nitrite and peroxynitrite, were thus attenuated.
Methylxanthines are the psycho-pharmacologically active
constituents of chocolate.
Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2004.
Liking, cravings and addiction for chocolate (chocoholism) are often explained through the presence of pharmacologically active compounds. However, mere "presence" does not guarantee psycho-activity. Two double-blind, placebo-controlled studies measured the effects on cognitive performance and mood of the amounts of cocoa powder and methylxanthines found in a 50 g bar of dark chocolate. In study 1, participants ( n=20) completed a test battery once before and twice after treatment administration. Treatments included 11.6 g cocoa powder and a caffeine and theobromine combination (19 and 250 mg, respectively). Study 2 ( n=22) comprised three post-treatment test batteries and investigated the effects of "milk" and "dark" chocolate levels of these methylxanthines. The test battery consisted of a long duration simple reaction time task, a rapid visual information processing task, and a mood questionnaire. Identical improvements on the mood construct "energetic arousal" and cognitive function were found for cocoa powder and the caffeine + theobromine combination versus placebo. In chocolate, both "milk chocolate" and "dark chocolate" methylxanthine doses improved cognitive function compared with "white chocolate". The effects of white chocolate did not differ significantly from those of water. A normal portion of chocolate exhibits psychopharmacological activity. The identical profile of effects exerted by cocoa powder and its methylxanthine constituents shows this activity to be confined to the combination of caffeine and theobromine.
Polyphenols of cocoa: inhibition of mammalian 15-lipoxygenase.
Biol Chem. 2001.
Some cocoas and chocolates are rich in (-)-epicatechin and its related oligomers, the procyanidins. Fractions of these compounds, isolated from the seeds of Theobroma cacao, caused dose-dependent inhibition of isolated rabbit 15-lipoxygenase-1. These observations suggest general lipoxygenase-inhibitory potency of flavanols and procyanidins that may contribute to their putative beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system in man. Thus, they may provide a plausible explanation for reports indicating that procyanidins decrease the leukotriene / prostacyclin ratio in humans and human aortic endothelial cells.
Medications derived from a component of cocoa are still several years away despite studies suggesting it could help prevent cancer and cardiovascular diseases in humans. The compounds, known as flavonoids, are found in chocolate and a host of other products including vegetables, green tea and red wine. A growing body of research has shown that flavonoids can help blood vessels work more efficiently, raising the possibility of treatments for a host of diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. But while pharmaceutical giants are beginning to notice the findings, the speculative nature of the research has left many companies reluctant to invest millions of dollars in the technology. For some time, raw cocoa has been widely recognized as a source of flavonoids, and in particular a class of flavonoids known as flavanols. Privately held Mars has invested more than $10 million in studies to develop hundreds of compounds that copy the properties of cocoa flavanols. Americans eat more than 3 billion pounds of chocolate annually, or about 11 pounds per person. Most of the demand for cocoa is in the popular milk chocolate variety, but consumers' interest in dark chocolate has surged in recent years after research has shed light on the potential health benefits. A study recently released by Hollenberg found that Kuna Indians living on a chain of islands near Panama consumed large quantities of flavanol-rich cocoa every day. The Kuna were less likely to die of heart disease and cancer than those living on the Panama mainland. Whether cocoa is a factor in their longevity is difficult to say. Still, doctors and scientists have not made recommendations on cocoa consumption to their patients. Consumers should limit their intake of chocolate, which is high in fat, sugar and calories.
June, 2006 - The US Food and Drug Administration has warned Mars / Masterfoods that its CocoaVia chocolate bar is in breach of FDA regulations on several grounds and given the company 15 days to respond. In its warning letter, FDA questioned the level of folic acid in several CocoaVia products as well as the heart health claims they were employing due to their plant sterol content. FDA also stated the products' health claims meant they should be classified as drugs. In regard to folic acid, FDA stated foods to which folic acid can be added are designed to keep total folic acid intake under 1mg. "The consumption of higher levels of folic acid can mask anaemia in persons with vitamin B12 deficiency. Under those circumstances, the consequences of the anaemia (i.e., severe and irreversible neurological damage) would go undetected," it said. The FDA warning went on to say the CocoaVia products contained too much saturated fat to carry a heart health claim. "The labels of these products bear the claims 'Promotes a healthy heart' and 'Now you can have real chocolate pleasure with real heart health benefits,'" FDA said. "These claims are false or misleading because of the high levels of saturated fat in the products." The letter added: "The regulation authorizing a health claim for plant stero/stanol esters and reduced risk of heart disease includes the requirement that the food bearing the claim be low in saturated fat (1g or less of saturated fat per reference amount and not more than 15 per cent of calories from saturated fatty acids)." Moreover, FDA said the claims promote the bars as being able to "prevent, mitigate, and treat hypercholesterolemia" and should therefore be classified as drugs.
Green and Black - Maya Gold - Organic cocoa liquor, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter. Minimum 55 % cocoa.
Hershey's Extra Dark - Pure Dark Chocolate - 60% cocoa - Ingredients: Semi-sweet chocolate (chocolate, sugar, cocoa, milk fat, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, natural vanilla flavor, and milk).
Ghirardelli Chocolate - Intense Dark - Twilight Delight 72% cocoa - Ingredients - Unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla, soy lecithin.
Valor Chocolate - 70% cocoa Premium - Ghana, Panama, Ecuador - Ingredients - Chocolate processed with alkali, sugar, cocoa, cocoa butter, soy lecithin.
Cocoa butter does not
prevent stretch marks
Applying cocoa butter lotion during pregnancy does not help prevent the stretch marks that many women develop. Stretch marks, or striae gravidarum, typically occur on the abdomen and breasts, but can also appear on the hips, thighs, and buttocks. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, August 2008.
Wouldn't the best form of cocoa be raw cocoa beans - which are easily purchased at Whole Foods rather than the candy bars with sugar and processed cocoa? I grind them in a coffee grinder and throw them in skim milk for 45 seconds in a microwave (only luke warm) and mix and drink -- no sugar -- and you don't need it. Or put the just ground cocoa beans in with a raw whole egg or egg white, nutmeg and vanilla with skim milk in a blender and drink down (a variation of eggnog)? Anyway, I think this is superior way to get the cocoa product and get more of it, wouldn't you agree? You could put the raw cocoa bean on the product list at the end of your website if you wished.
Thank you for the suggestion. We have been experimenting with raw cocoa bean along with vanilla extract, agave syrup, and stevia liquid extract and your suggestion of nutmeg and egg yolk is worth a try. Some people just don't have the time or interest in doing this, so for them taking a cocoa supplement is suitable.
I've discovered a dark roasted instant coffee mixed with baking cocoa, one teaspoon of this mixture with milk makes a very good chocolate drink. The coffee gives it a base taste, and the cocoa flavor comes through. And then my normal food is Carrots, cabbage onion & tomatoes & sweet potato. THey get flavored with cream cheese, yellow cheese, Ginger & garlic.& some meat, and some sunshine for the vitamin. I am 58 years old, I work as a dishwasher for Chef Cretions, I've been told that it is the worse job there, yet I think it is fun, and I sure would hate to think about retirement. I just dont know how good the food is that I am eating.