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HOLISTIC HEALTH NOTEBOOK: News about chocolate is too good to be true

By Staff | May 28, 2010

 

Every once in awhile, some research tidbit or marketing campaign comes

across my desk that seems too good to be true.  Such was the case a year or

so ago when someone approached me about healthy chocolate. "Yeah, right," I

snickered.

And then I looked up chocolate and cacao on some of my best research sites

and was blown away by the strength and number of research projects touting

the benefits of dark chocolate. Those Inca Indians really knew their stuff.

I recently prepared a talk on raw chocolate and diabetes, words that would

ordinarily not be found in the same sentence unless followed by "stay away

from it." To my amazement, raw chocolate is a food that diabetics should

eat.

What does the science say?

Raw cacao is the highest antioxidant food on the planet. Diabetics have an

issue with oxidative damage and need to focus on eating antioxidant rich

foods to help prevent neuropathy and other associated conditions. Apparently

the star antioxidant in chocolate (although there are many) are the

epicatechins, plant based substances that give huge benefits to the body.

Raw cacao (through epicatechins) suppress lipid peroxidation and decrease

plasma concentrations of proinflammatory leukotrienes. Diabetics have issues

with inflammation and need to focus on reducing inflammation through dietary

changes – including eating raw chocolate.

Raw chocolate favorably affects cardiovascular disease risk factors through

its antioxidant activity, including improving HDL-cholesterol

concentrations.

A 2008 rat study (why did they have to use rats? I know plenty of people who

would have enjoyed participating in this study) studied the effects of cocoa

on obese diabetics (ob-db).  The study revealed that cocoa supplementation

in the ob-db rats significantly reduced plasma glucose at 60 and 90 minutes

compared to unsupplemented rats.  In addition, oxidative stress biomarker

(8-isoprostane) was significantly reduced as well.

This is just a brief look at studies showing the benefits of raw chocolate;

there are literally hundreds of studies. But you have to remember that while

all cacao may have been created equal, it doesn’t remain equal if it

undergoes heat processing and the addition of sugar, fats, wax, and other

stuff. The secret is raw, unprocessed, low-glycemic chocolate.

I tell people that this is a chocolate that you not only want to eat but you

should eat – three times a day.

Carol is a certified lifestyle educator. She owns the Island Nutrition

Center on Sanibel. She can be reached at 472-4499 or at

www.carolsimontacchionline.com.