Cocoa and Cacao

Did you know that dark chocolate contains more antioxidants than acai and goji berries? Cocoa powder is rich in flavonoids, a plant chemical known to help fight a variety of diseases. Dark chocolate contains polyphenols, the same antioxidants found in green tea and red wine; stearic acid, a type of fat that does not raise cholesterol; and flavonoids, which reduce the stickiness of platelets, inhibiting blood clotting and reducing the danger of coronary artery blockages, according to Dr. Andrew Weil. Cocoa is particularly known for its ability to thin and relax blood vessels, proving helpful at preventing heart disease and hypertension. Dr. Weil recommends chocolate containing over 70% cocoa and he loves the high-quality chocolate from Venezuela.

According to a study that used the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) method of measuring antioxidant levels in several fruits including acai, pomegranate, and blueberries, cocoa powder and dark chocolate were the most concentrated source of antioxidants and total flavanol content. Raw coca powder had an ORAC score of 95,500 compared to goji berrie s and acai that scored 25,300 and 18,500 respectively. Specifically, cocoa and chocolate contain some of the highest concentrations of procyanidin flavanoids: catechin and epicatechin which have potent antioxidant and antiplatelet activities following consumption.

Dr. Oz touts cocoa as being helpful in lowering blood pressure, fighting heart disease, repairing damaged skin, and boosting the feel-good chemicals endorphins and seratonin. In a recent study, researchers at Athens Medical School in Greece discovered that eating dark chocolate improves endothelial function, the function of cells in blood vessel walls. Another study in France found the flavanols and procyanidins in cocoa and chocolate to inhibit the growth and synthesis of human colonic cancer cells.

Cocoa powder and chocolate are made from an extract of the seeds of the fruit of the Theobrama Cacao tree. Thus being the “whole food” form of chocolate, cacao seeds provide superior nutrient value even beyond that of its derivatives cocoa powder and chocolate. Whole cacao beans and nibs are high in fiber and magnesium and contain a number of essential minerals including sulfur, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese. Organic raw cacao is best to avoid toxic chemicals from irradiation and other chemicals that are typically sprayed on cocoa beans.

Raw cacao comes without the fillers, preservatives, flavor enhancers and sugar contained in the commercial chocolate we are used to consuming. It is for this reason that the health benefits are so great, however cacao is often found to have a strong and bitter taste. Here are a few great tasting options for incorporating raw cacao into your diet:

The Urban Clinic Triple Antioxidant Smoothie

The Soft Serve Fruit Co chocolate soft serve fruit made with Ecuadorian cacao

MarieBelle’s Aztec Hot Chocolate

Organic Traditions Dark Chocolate Almonds

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Data Sources: Pubmed: Flavanols and procyanidins of cocoa and chocolate inhibit growth and polyamine biosynthesis of human colonic cancer cells.Chocolate: food as medicine/medicine as food.Cocoa flavanols: effects on vascular nitric oxide and blood pressure.Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products.
Disclaimer: The information in this article and on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. None of the products mentioned in this article or on this website are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The information in this article is not intended to provide personal medical advice, which should be obtained from a medical professional. This information is made available with the understanding that the author and publisher are not providing medical, psychological, or nutritional counseling services on this site. The information on this Web site does not cover all possible uses, actions, precautions, side effects, and interactions. Liability for individual actions, opinions, or omissions based upon the contents of this site is expressly disclaimed. This information has not been evaluated or approved by the U.S. FDA.

3 responses to “Cocoa and Cacao

  1. Pingback: Trendy Diets: Paleo, Gluten-Free, 4-Hour Body « THE URBAN CLINIC·

  2. Pingback: The Urban Clinic Triple Antioxidant Smoothie « THE URBAN CLINIC·

  3. Pingback: Loving The Soft Serve Fruit Co. « THE URBAN CLINIC·

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