Chocolate Therapy: The Benefits of Eating/Drinking Cacao

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Let be begin with, I LOVE DARK CHOCOLATE. Next to wine, raw honey, herbal tea, and Amazon’s Used Books Section, it is one of my biggest guilty pleasures. Although, for some time now I have known, I don’t have to feel so guilty about it! Because, well, it has incredible health and medicinal properties. Here is a list of scholarly journals I found from Green Med Info.

  1. Chocolate consumption during pregnancy may reduce the likelihood of preeclampsia.
  2. Chocolate consumption is associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of cardiometabolic disorders.
  3. Chocolate, cocoa and flavan-3-ols improve insulin resistance, reduces serum insulin levels, and parameters associated with cardiovascular disease risk.
  4. Chocolate consumption is inversely associated with calcified atherosclerotic plaque in the coronary arteries.
  5. Chocolate consumption may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke not using antihypertensive medication.
  6. Daily consumption of 40 g of dark chocolate during a period of 2 weeks reduces the urinary excretion of the stress hormone cortisol and catecholamines, while reducing other metabolic indicators of stress.
  7. Dark chocolate consumption increases HDL cholesterol concentration and chocolate fatty acids may inhibit lipid peroxidation in healthy humans.
  8. In patients with cirrhosis, dark chocolate blunted the postprandial increase in hepatic venous pressure gradient by improving flow-mediated hepatic vasorelaxation and ameliorated systemic hypotension.
  9. Regular consumption of a chocolate rich in flavanols confers significant photoprotection and can thus be effective at protecting human skin from harmful UV effects.
  10. Moderate consumption of cocoa may increase life span; cocoa exhibits metal-chelating properties.

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The following article is from Mother Nature Network. It shows seven ways in which chocolate can promote wellness in your life. With resources and studies like this, why would anyone NOT eat chocolate? Yet, there is a risk of overindulgence. Just like with any therapy, over-use can be counter-productive. As is the quality of the source and ingredients in the cocoa. Rule of thumb, do your research! Find out the story of the chocolate you like so much, and discover if it’s standards meet the your best.

I love winter season, just one more reason to bundle up and sip on some luscious drinking chocolate.

Namaste.
By healing myself, I heal others.

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Oh those clever Mayans. When they weren’t busy developing written languages, deciphering complicated astronomical systems and fending off conquistadores, they happened to invent sipping chocolate. Even if the Mesoamerican version was a spicy drink served cold, we can still thank them for having conceived of a drinkable cocoa concoction that has endured, in some form or another, for millennia. It wasn’t until the Spanish explorers brought chocolate back to Europe in the 16th century that sweetened warm versions of the elixir were consumed. Indeed, from the 16th to 19th centuries, hot chocolate was valued as a special drink, as well as taken as a medicine.

Drinkable chocolate has been used for years to treat ailments and maladies. When chocolate made its way to France in the 17th century, it was used “to fight against fits of anger and bad moods.” Which wasn’t just the French being French, it was truly insightful, given that modern research has discovered that chocolate reduces levels of stress hormones in the bodies of people feeling highly freaked out.
Which begs the question: We keep hearing more and more about the health benefits of chocolate, can the same be applied to hot cocoa as well? As it turns out, the answer is a resounding yes.
Research continues to show us that antioxidants help prevent cancer, heart disease, age-related macular degeneration and aging in general because they fight free radicals in the body. The trendy so-called super foods are the ones bursting with antioxidants — acai, goji berries, blueberries and pomegranate have become the super-food darlings. But antioxidants come in surprising forms too, like in vehicles once considered more vice than health food, such as coffee, red wine, and yes, chocolate. Which is one of the areas where chocolate, especially in the form of hot cocoa, shines. Here’s how.
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1. According to a study conducted at Cornell University, the antioxidant concentration in hot cocoa is almost twice as strong as red wine. Cocoa’s concentration was two to three times stronger than that of green tea and four to five times stronger than that of black tea.
2. Professor Chang Yong Lee, the leader of the Cornell study, added that the “hot” in “hot chocolate” is important as well. More antioxidants are released when it’s heated up.
3. A cup of hot cocoa contains 611 milligrams of the phenolic compound gallic acid equivalents (GAE) and 564 milligrams of the flavonoid epicatechin equivalents (ECE). The antioxidant gallic acid is used to treat internal hemorrhages, albuminuria (the presence of albumin in the urine, which can indicate kidney disease) and diabetes.
4. Although a regular bar of chocolate has strong antioxidant activity, the health benefits may be outweighed because of the saturated fats present — cocoa generally has much less fat per serving compared to the 8 grams of fat in a standard chocolate bar.
5. The flavonoids help your body process nitric oxide, which is why hot cocoa can improve blood flow, help lower your blood pressure and improve heart health.
6. The flavonoids in hot chocolate also help prevent platelets in your blood from mingling together and forming clots.
7. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, drinking hot chocolate can help you think better too. The flavonoids increase the blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Since dementia is caused by a reduced flow of blood to the brain, researchers think it could be treated with cocoa.
Now comes the tricky part. Commercial instant hot cocoa mixes are often more of an artificial monstrosity that may eradicate any good the cocoa may have to offer. One of the most popular mixes, for example, lists cocoa fifth on the list of ingredients, beneath the higher-level ingredients of sugar, corn syrup and a medley of vegetable oils.
But not to worry, making your own healthy versions from scratch couldn’t be easier. (See 5 healthy recipes for hot cocoa for the happy hot cocoa how-to.)
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