Chocolate. The recently named new “super food” can reduce the risks of a series of diseases and fight the common cold, all the while increasing your longevity.
Everyone knows it tastes great — on average, 12 pounds of chocolate are consumed per person per year in the U.S., with an estimated $13 billion spent annually nation-wide, says the California Academy of Sciences. But now the scientific community is also encouraging you to satisfy your sweet tooth — at least in moderation.
"Cacao seeds should be considered a 'super fruit' and products derived from cacao seed extracts, such as natural cocoa powder and dark chocolate, as 'super foods,'" said Dr Debra Millar, lead author of a study published in the Chemistry Central Journal. The findings showed dark chocolate and cocoa had more antioxidants and more flavonols than fruit juices — including supposed superfruits like acai berries, cranberries, and pomegranates.
Choosing Your Chocolate
Not all chocolates are created equal. Research has validated dark chocolate as a powerful antioxidant that combats free radicals and molecules that can complicate the immune system. However, unlike dark chocolate, milk chocolate contains less of the original cocoa bean used to make the sweet treat as it often been diluted with milk solids, sugar and cream.
A rule of thumb for chocolate is the more cocoa content it has, the more flavonoids it contains and the healthier it is for you to consume. When choosing a dark chocolate bar be sure it indicates at least 65 percent cacao to optimize its health benefits. Now, satisfy your taste buds as you indulge in that dark chocolate bar guilt-free, let it melt in your mouth and learn about the benefits chocolate can provide for your health.
1. Cacao and Cancer
Pentamer, a compound found in cocoa, has been shown to help prevent the ability of cancer cells to spread throughout the body. In a study published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, researchers from the University of Georgetown used the chocolate compound’s anti-cancer properties to conduct lab experiments in breast cancer cell cultures and compare the “chocolate treatment” to standard treatment on normal breast cells. The results of the study showed that breast cancer cells stopped spreading when they were treated with pentamer. The chocolate ingredient acts as a deactivator: it stops the proteins that generally push the cancer cells to spread. Although the test was done on breast cancer cells, researchers suspect that pentamer will have the same effect on other cancers.
2. Hot Chocolate and Dementia
Consuming two cups of hot chocolate can improve mental agility in the elderly. In a study published in Neurology, researchers found hot cocoa, packed with flavanols, could improve brain flood flow and enhance cognitive function in the elderly. The 60 participants in the study (with an average age of 73) drank two cups of hot cocoa every day for one month. The test subjects did not show signs of demetia, and the 18 subjects who had bad blood blow at start of the study had an eight percent elevation in blood flow when the drank hot chocolate. However, the subjects who did not have bad blood flow did not experience a boost in their mental speed. The researchers of this study remain skeptical as to whether the other ingredients in hot cocoa have the ability to fight dementia or if the low flavanol levels suffice.
3. Dark Chocolate and Diabetes
Consuming chocolate to prevent diabetes may seem like an oxymoron, but a study conducted in Italy found that the flavonoids in dark chocolate can not only lower your blood pressure and cholesterol but also improve the way your body processes sugar. Ten participants of the study who had high blood pressure ate dark chocolate bars, while the other 10 ate white chocolate bars which contained no flavonoids. The results of the study show the 10 participants who consumed dark chocolate consumption had an accelerated metabolism of blood sugar which could be seen as a protective factor from diabetes. Moderate consumption of dark chocolate for diabetics speed up sugar processes in the body.
4. Chocolates and Heart Disease
Consuming chocolate can reduce the risk of heart disease due to the many properties of flavonoids. Chocolate can prevent blood clots from forming — the blood platelets of many chocolate lovers clump together slowly in comparison to non-chocolate eaters, says Harvard Health Publications. Dark chocolate can reduce platelet activation.
5. Chocolate: A Cure for the Common Cold?
Cocoa contains a chemical called theobromine that can help the body fight off the symptoms of the common cold. A study presented at the British Thoracic Society's winter meetings in 2012 found that the cocoa chemical blocked the action of sensory nerves in those with a cold. Blocking the sensory nerves will stop the cough reflex in a common cold. Researchers of this study found the chocolate chemical to be more effective than codeine when treating a chronic cough.http://xtremevitality.regenerationusa.net/
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