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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Coca Chocolate Good or Bad for Health

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Health Benefits

Plant-derived polyphenols are historically a significant and natural constituent of the human diet. Diets rich in flavonoids (a class of polyphenols) have been associated with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease (Zhu et al, 2002). Generally, the consumption of cocoa powder (22g daily in trials) or dark chocolate (16g daily in trials) leads to improved cholesterol ratios, with a higher ratio of high density lipoproteins (HDL) to LDL. A higher ratio of HDL to LDL is associated with a lower risk for heart disease.
In a study where people consumed chocolate with bread and water on two separate occasions: first consuming 40 g of chocolate, and one week later, consuming 80 g of chocolate. The total polyphenol intake from chocolate was 892mg, and 1783mg respectively. Blood samples were drawn before chocolate consumption and at intervals of one, two, three and four hours after consumption. Blood analysis found levels of the polyphenol epicatechin rose after consumption of each chocolate sample, reflecting rapid absorption. Another study showed that feeding 35 g of cocoa powder to 12 male subjects demonstrated a significant increase in LDL cholesterol’s resistance to oxidation within two hours of cocoa consumption (CMA, 2003). In another trial, the inhibitory effect of the cocoa extract was stronger than ascorbic acid.  Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) has been shown to act as an antioxidant (Zhu et al, 2002).
Studies show that cocoa powder, dark chocolate and milk chocolate have higher Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC) values than many common foods, such as prunes and blueberries. (ORAC values measure how powerful an antioxidant a substance is.) An antioxidant is a substance that inhibits oxidation or reactions promoted by oxygen and peroxides, and that include many held to protect the living body from the deleterious effects of free radicals. Examples include beta-carotene, vitamin C, and alpha-tocopherol.
Dark chocolate has more than 13,000 ORAC units and milk chocolate has about 6,700, according to the Chocolate Manufacturers Association. Unsweetened powdered cocoa starts out with almost twice as much antioxidants as dark chocolate, but when it's diluted with water or milk and sugar to make hot chocolate, the flavonoid total per serving plummets to about half that in milk chocolate.
In different terms, a 40-gram serving of milk chocolate contains about 400 milligrams of antioxidants.
A study of a tribe of indians (Kuna Indians living on islands off Panama, Central America ) who consume an average of five cups of cocoa a day has shown that chocolate may prevent high blood pressure. Researchers are investigating a link between consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa and nitric oxide synthesis. There is also a link between antioxidants in chocolate and a reduction in platelet aggregation in blood, and an increase in "good cholesterol" levels. Nitric oxide plays such an important role in the maintenance of healthy blood pressure and, in turn, cardiovascular health (Prof Norman Hollenberg of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 2002).
Flavanols found in cocoa seem to play a role in helping the body use nitric oxide. Flavanols are one class of a group of naturally occurring substances called flavonoids, which are found in foods such as cocoa, dark chocolate, purple grape juice, and tea. Previous studies have also indicated that eating foods high in flavonoids can have positive effects on the heart. Two clinical studies conducted by Heiss et al (2003) in Germany, suggest that the flavanols found in cocoa and chocolate products may have positive effects on vascular health. They studied the idea that the consumption of a flavanol-rich cocoa products improve endothelial function, and that this improvement is related to an increase in circulating nitric oxide concentrations.


It is worth noting that chocolate and the cocoa bean have saturated fat but the saturated fat does not elevate your cholesterol. Stearic acid found in cocoa, is a unique fatty acid in that it does not elevate blood cholesterol levels as other saturated fats do. Studies have found that diets containing cocoa and chocolate have a neutral effect on blood cholesterol levels in humans.

Cocoa powder

Cocoa powder is either alkalized or nonalkalized. Alkalized cocoa powder contains potassium carbonate, sodium carbonate, sodium hydroxide, or magnesium, all of which neutralize the naturally occurring acids and make the powder easier to dissolve in liquids. Cocoa powder may also contain added starch (e.g., corn starch) to keep it from caking during storage. Unsweetened cocoa powder is used primarily in baking. Sweetened cocoa powder is often mixed with hot milk or water to produce “hot chocolate” or “hot cocoa.”

Conclusions

The incorporation of dark chocolate and cocoa powder in a diet that is rich in other food sources of antioxidants- such as fruit, vegetables and rooibos tea, results in a high antioxidant intake and may consequently reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Consumption of flavonoid-rich cocoa and chocolate can result in increased plasma antioxidant activity in healthy human adults (Zhu, et al, 2002).
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Chocolate & Cocoa:                  
'Healthy' Benefits, or Negative Health Effects?


Is Chocolate a food of the gods because of its divine taste and Health Benefits,or is it because heavenly bodies don't have to worry about its Health Hazards?Stories on the Health Benefits of consuming Cocoa Products have increasingly made the news, following thediscovery that they are a rich source of catechins, which are polyphenols of the flavanol group, and which arebelieved to protect against heart disease, cancer, and various other medical conditions.Chocolate manufacturers, retailers, and the media have been taking advantage of these findings by not onlytrying to make chocolate lovers feel less guilty about their addiction, but also by trying to target more health-conscious consumers with regular doses of "research studies" praising the supposed benefits of consumingchocolate, among them that:

  • eating chocolate does not trigger migraine headaches, 
  • eating chocolate reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer.                   
  • eating chocolate does not give someone acne or other skin eruptions,
  • eating chocolate boosts one's appetite, but does not cause weight gain,                   eating moderate amounts of chocolate makes one live almost a year longer,
  • eating chocolate releases endorphins in the brain, which act as pain-relievers,
  • the sugar in chocolate may reduce stress, and have calming and pain relieving effect. 

How reliable are all these "Studies?" When taking a closer look, one discovers that once the studies funded by chocolate interest groups werediscarded, the ones left offered conflicting results.  As expected, some isolated compounds in cocoa didhowever show certain health benefits.  Because it is a common practice in nutritional research to do studieson food fractions, outcomes may sometimes appear negative because they are done without any co-factorsor complexed nutrients, however in the case of cocoa, some of the research was positive because those"co-factors" (all the other detrimental ingredients in chocolate) were not part of the study. If people were to consume pure cocoa, they might indeed be able to enjoy a few health benefits, includinga positive effect on blood pressure and glucose metabolism,63 however the majority of people eat processedchocolate with all the other less desirable ingredients (i.e. added sugar, corn syrup, milk fats / dairy cream,hydrogenated oils, etc.), and where the actual cocoa content may be less than 20%, so unless premium darkchocolate is consumed, and one does not suffer from copper overload (see further below), all bets regardingchocolate being a healthy food are off.With claims made of sugar having a "pain-relieving" effect (babies fed a sucrose solution felt less pain fromneedles), it is doubtful that we will see chocolate bars replacing conventional analgesics any time soon, norare these same "researchers" making these sugar-promoting claims likely going to reach for a chocolate barnext time they suffer from a throbbing toothache, a pounding headache, or a kidney stone attack.While cocoa and sugar do not "cause" acne, the sugar present in chocolate will most certainly make acne,or any other acne-like skin eruptions worse, as anyone suffering from these skin conditions can attest to.


Placebo-controlled trials 

When taking a closer look, one discovers that once the studies funded by chocolate interest groups werediscarded, the ones left offered conflicting results.  As expected, some isolated compounds in cocoa didhowever show certain health benefits.  Because it is a common practice in nutritional research to do studieson food fractions, outcomes may sometimes appear negative because they are done without any co-factorsor complexed nutrients, however in the case of cocoa, some of the research was positive because those"co-factors" (all the other detrimental ingredients in chocolate) were not part of the study. If people were to consume pure cocoa, they might indeed be able to enjoy a few health benefits, includinga positive effect on blood pressure and glucose metabolism,63 however the majority of people eat processedchocolate with all the other less desirable ingredients (i.e. added sugar, corn syrup, milk fats / dairy cream,hydrogenated oils, etc.), and where the actual cocoa content may be less than 20%, so unless premium darkchocolate is consumed, and one does not suffer from copper overload (see further below), all bets regardingchocolate being a healthy food are off.


With claims made of sugar having a "pain-relieving" effect (babies fed a sucrose solution felt less pain fromneedles), it is doubtful that we will see chocolate bars replacing conventional analgesics any time soon, norare these same "researchers" making these sugar-promoting claims likely going to reach for a chocolate barnext time they suffer from a throbbing toothache, a pounding headache, or a kidney stone attack.While cocoa and sugar do not "cause" acne, the sugar present in chocolate will most certainly make acne,or any other acne-like skin eruptions worse, as anyone suffering from these skin conditions can attest to.
Placebo-controlled trials showed that some of the chemicals in chocolate (phenylethylamine, theobromine,or caffeine), can indeed trigger migraines by altering cerebral blood flow and releasing norepinephrine insome of those prone to suffer from migraine headaches.  Of all of the foods isolated that triggered the mostattacks, chocolate was an offender about 30% of the time.  Claiming that "eating moderate amounts ofchocolate increases one's life span" is a most interesting example of how some "researchers" will twist andmanipulate statistics to prove anything!


"Chocolate-Is-Good-For-You" campaigns through the media or the prominent placement of leaflets atconfectionery counters keep feeding the consumer "made-to-order" research results whose outcome is pre-determined to satisfy an agenda (i.e. selling chocolate), with little relevance to science or facts.  Consideringthat nicotine has also shown some health benefits, particularly with ulcerative colitis and Parkinson's disease,would this be a reason to urge people to start smoking tobacco? From a nutritional perspective - the average milk chocolate product is no less a junk food than ice creamor donuts, and it is equally unhealthy and fattening when large amounts are consumed on a regular basis.While no one is trying to discourage people from enjoying an occasional chocolate treat - urging consumersto increase their chocolate consumption for "Health Reasons" leaves nutritional research less than credible,particularly when diabetes and obesity have become an out-of-control global problem. The good news is, premium grade dark chocolate contains only cocoa butter, a fat that naturally occurs incocoa beans, which is made up of stearic acid (34%), oleic acid (34%), palmitic acid (25%), and the rest ofother fatty acids, whereby the combined effect of all the fats found in cocoa butter is quite neutral in regardto an individual's lipid (heart disease risk) profile.  However, when milk chocolate, or lower grade chocolate isconsumed, part of the total fat content of chocolate comes from milk fat or various other types of fat, whichdo create a risk factor with cardiovascular disease. Despite the good news on cocoa not raising LDL cholesterol, even dark chocolate is a very calorie-densefood, so while the fat content may not invite cardiovascular disease from an atherogenic (arterial clogging)perspective, its regular consumption will add a lot of extra calories to someone's daily total, and as a resultstill affect those who have to watch their caloric intake.  Nevertheless, being listed as the No.1 ingredient inmany chocolate products, sugar is unquestionably a worse culprit compared to the fat content whenaddressing the effects of chocolate on someone's overall health. Sugar is a well-known cause, contributing, or aggravating factor with a host of medical conditions, includingheart disease, inflammatory conditions, immune system disorders, impaired phagocytosis, mood disorders,insulin and blood sugar disorders, leukemia, tooth decay, yeast infections, depletion of essential nutrients,osteoporosis, obesity, and others. (see also "Sugar & Glycemic Index"). Cocoa products also contain pharmacological substances such as n-acylethanolamines that are relatedto cannabis (marijuana), they contain stimulants such as phenylethylamine, which have an anti-depressantand amphetamine-like effect; and they contain compounds that stimulate the brain to release an opiate-likesubstance called anandamide.  When drugs are used to block the brain's opiate receptors, the desire forchocolate (and other sweet and fatty foods) disappears -- confirming the addictive nature of these types


But despite cocoa being such an opiate and endorphin-releasing pharmacological powerhouse, who wouldhave guessed that when chocoholics were given cocoa in capsules - without the added fat and sugar, andwithout the feel of chocolate melting in their mouths - it had no satisfying effect at all!However, while eating the actual chocolate bar satisfied the cravings for it, studies showed that there wasno improvement with mood, relaxation, feeling content, depression, or guilt, after eating chocolate.Again - in isolation, polyphenols work well in a test-tube environment, but cocoa also happens to be very highin Copper, which unfortunately inhibits the action of certain flavonoids, particularly Hesperidin, which is anessential flavanone (see also "Bioflavonoids").  This can lead to a greater incidence of vascular degenerationsuch as varicose veins, hemorrhoids, aneurysms, bruising, heart disease, and stroke in those with elevatedcopper levels.While low copper levels can be implicated with weak and fragile blood vessels also, high copper levelsare much more common in many parts of the world, with nearly 90% of patients tested exhibiting a chemicalprofile that - in addition to their own unique chemistry - contained an underlying pattern that reflects theimpact of copper overload on various nutrients, which include chromium, molybdenum, nickel, hesperidin,Vitamin C, sulfur, and others. The additional consumption of high copper sources such as chocolate and cocoa products, cola drinks,coffee, (as well as shellfish, liver, soy products, and some nuts and seeds), not only aggravates many highcopper-related medical conditions, but it is responsible for creating new ones.  At the same time, copper isan important co-factor for angiogenesis (new blood vessel formation with cancers), so with the exceptionof colon cancer, for which copper and calcium are somewhat protective for, most other types of malignantor benign tumors, hemangiomas, fibroids, etc., are associated with high copper levels. Dark, bitter chocolate has the highest catechin content, but at the same time has also the highest copperlevel.  Light or milk chocolate has the lowest copper level, but also the lowest catechin content.



The short-term decrease of some medical problems associated with high flavonoid intake is eventually offsetby steadily increasing copper levels inhibiting flavonoid activity, which will over time promote an increase inthese very same conditions. The high sugar content in chocolate increases Chromium requirements (chromium is an associated tracemineral to copper).  The resulting high copper / low chromium ratio creates an increased risk for trabecularbone loss, and it can trigger or worsen blood sugar-related, and/or inflammatory conditions that may includefrequent tonsil infections, some forms of arthritis, or similar problems of the immune system in proneindividuals. By lowering Sulfur, high copper levels are a common cause or aggravating factor of osteoarthritis, for whichsome people take glucosamine sulfate or MSM supplements.  If successful, they partly work by counteractinghigh copper levels and thus help to reverse or slow cartilage or joint degeneration.  Other than the effect ofchocolate on an individual's mood, elevated copper levels - by inhibiting sulfur - can adversely affect memoryand concentration, so progressive copper storage as a result of long-term high copper intake, combined withincreasingly diminishing sulfur levels can eventually lead to mental impairment or dementia.(see also "Copper & Chromium" and "Selenium & Sulfur"). Chocolate contains theobromine and a small amount of caffeine, both being stimulants and members of themethylxanthine family.  Although it increases alertness, theobromine doesn't have the same jittery effect onthe heart like caffeine.  However, theobromine can be toxic or even lethal to domestic animals such asdogs, cats, parrots and horses as a result of affecting their kidneys, heart, and central nervous system. Another concern - particularly for young children - are the high Lead concentrations in manufactured cocoaand chocolate products, which, according to the Environmental Health Perspectives (2005),64 are one of  thehighest reported for all food items. From a clinical perspective, and putting aside the commercial hype that has been created of late to boost theimage of chocolate - people with the highest intake of chocolate either end up with excessive copper levels,or elevated VLDL triglycerides (from all that sugar).  On average, most chocoholic patients test high in both.


As is the case with other sweets - anything beyond a casual consumption of chocolate will result in reduced,not improved health, without even going into some more immediate health concerns that some individualsexperience from consuming chocolate, such as allergic reactions, chronic mucus / sinus problems, heartburn,esophageal reflux (GERD), kidney stones, fibrocystic breast disease, migraine headaches, or aggravated PMS.Nevertheless - in moderation - chocolate can certainly be the Sinful Delight it was meant to be!

 Source: http://www.acu-cell.com/choc.html