Health benefits of Cocoa.
January 8, 2014 Admin 0
A dietary intake of flavan-3-ols, present in many fruits and vegetables, has been associated with numerous health benefits, in particular aiding in the prevention of Cardiovascular disease. Cocoa and cocoa containing products are typically rich in flavan-3-ols, oligomers, and polymers (procyanidins). One such flavan-3-ol is epicatechin. Although epicatechin is present in several known species of plants, it is found in particular high concentrations in cocoa beans.
The epicatechin content of raw cocoa beans is typically in the range of 270 – 1235mg per 100g of cocoa beans. There is regional variation of this content depending on where the beans were harvested, but in a study of beans from different sources it was found that Sulawesian cocoa beans exhibited the highest antioxidant content followed by Malaysian beans. Of the broad spectrum of health benefits epicatchin offers, its strong antioxidant activity is perhaps one of the most interesting.
Other benefits include its protection against lipid peroxidation. Lipid peroxidation is a process where lipids are subject to oxidative degeneration where free radicals remove electrons from the lipids in the cell membrane and this results in cell damage.
In this role it offers some distinct advantages over other both resveratrol and quercetin. Studies have also considered that epicatechin may be involved in a protective role on osmotic fragility of cells, in a manner not unlike Insulin. For those suffering from diabetes, epicatechin causes an increase in acetylcholinesterase activity in red blood cells. Activity of this enzyme is significantly decreased in sufferers.
The consumption of cocoa is quite a simple affair but often it is present in products that also contain a large proportion of saturated fats and sugar. However dark chocolate and unsweetened cocoa drinks are excellent sources to consider.
Futher reading on Cocoa and Insulin here.