Imagine a drug that eases inflammation, reduces the risk of blood clots, relaxes blood vessels, improves circulation, improves liver function and blood sugar control, relieves stress and enhances mood. A medication that could do all those things might easily cost hundreds of dollars a month. It would likely top the doctors’ hit parade of most prescribed drugs.
We have just such a “medicine” and it’s delicious to boot. Yup…CHOCOLATE can do all those things and more!
A review in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology (Dec. 12, 2013) delves into the immunomodulatory properties of chocolate. The authors are hard-core biochemists from Innsbruck Medical University in Austria. These researchers note that there are more than 380 compounds in cocoa, many of which are known to be powerful antioxidants with numerous pharmacological activities including:
- Anti-inflammatory biochemistry
- Anti platelet action (reducing the sticky part of blood to reduce the risk of blood clots)
- Immune system modulation (enhancing cellular defense against viruses, bacteria and parasites)
- Nitric oxide enhancement (improving blood vessel flexibility & lowering blood pressure)
- Anti-oxidative effects (combatting atherosclerosis)
- Neurotransmitter modulation (improving mood)
A review article in the prestigious journal Stroke (online, Dec. 10, 2013) titled “Coffee, Tea, and Cocoa and Risk of Stroke” reveals that:
“Cacao products, such as chocolate, are rich sources of flavonoids, which are potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds…A recent meta-analysis of 42 acute or short-term chronic (≤ 18 weeks) RCTs [randomized controlled trials] found that cocoa or chocolate interventions significantly reduced fasting insulin concentrations, insulin resistance and mean arterial pressure as well as improved endothelia function measured by FMD [flow mediated dilation, a measure of blood vessel flexibility]…Results from a meta-analysis of those 5 [prospective epidemiological] studies (4 from Europe and 1 from the United States) showed a significant 19% lower risk of stroke when comparing the highest with the lowest category of chocolate consumption and a significant 14% reduction in stroke risks for a 50-g/week increment in chocolate consumption…”
Another exciting benefit of chocolate may be its protective action against hypertension in pregnant women. This is a sign of preeclampsia, a very serious complication of pregnancy. Left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to seizures and harm mothers and infants. One of the early signs of preeclampsia is loss of blood vessel flexibility (endothelial function impairment). If dark chocolate could counteract this physiological problem, it would be a delicious antidote to a life-threatening problem (Systematic Reviews, Dec. 20, 2013) and might help some women avoid emergency C-sections.
Finding the best chocolate for pharmacological benefits is not always easy. There is no standardized way of determining the flavanol content of cocoa or chocolate by reading most labels. That’s why we are excited about CocoaVia. This a high-flavanol standardized product is available in several flavors. We are delighted that the company has chosen to be one of our sponsors. For more information please visit CocoaVia’s website.