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Say Yes to Cocoa

Jun. 26, 2013|312 views
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With just 10 calories per tablespoon, plus two grams of fiber, cocoa powder may be the secret power food that’s been languishing in your pantry. You’ve probably heard that chocolate is good for your heart. Now new research suggests cocoa is a potent functional food that fights inflammation. In contrast to most chocolate, cocoa is low in fat and sugar.

Diet affects disease risk. Healthful plant-based diets are associated with lower inflammation and lower risks of common inflammation-related diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. That’s due, at least in part, to antioxidant compounds in plant foods, such as the polyphenols in foods like green tea, grapes and chocolate.

Researchers at Penn State showed recently that obese mice raised on a high-fat diet fared better when they also consumed cocoa powder. Obese control mice, also raised on a high-fat diet, did not receive cocoa in their feed. The cocoa-supplemented mice had significantly reduced inflammation, compared to control mice, and they gained less weight. Cocoa also helped the mice avoid fatty liver disease. Cocoa consumption yielded significantly lower insulin levels, which implies that the cocoa-fed mice would be less likely to develop human-style diabetes.

Previous research has shown that cocoa helps reduce blood pressure in humans, and cocoa consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The recent research on mice suggests that reduction of inflammation, which underlies many common chronic diseases, may account for many of cocoa’s benefits. 

Cooper KA, Donovan JL, Waterhouse AL, Williamson G. Cocoa and health: a decade of research. Br J Nutr. 2008 Jan;99(1):1-11. Epub 2007 Aug 1.

Penn State (2013, June 12). Cocoa may help fight obesity-related inflammation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 19, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2013/06/130612133134.htm 

 

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