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Dark Chocolate - Anti-inflammatory Health Benefits

 

Dark Chocolate “Anti-inflammatory / Anti-depressant”

  

 

 

      It’s the pure cocoa in dark chocolate that contains phytonutrients, polyphenols and flavonoids, especially epicatechin – Most flavonoids have antioxidant properties, and by preventing oxidant damage have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. Cocoa has a very high ORAC value, reflecting its antioxidant ability. In contrast, “white” chocolate contains no flavonoids. Chronic low grade inflammation is a main component of many, if not all health problems.

 

 

-       Cocoa flavonoids reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines and interleukin-1 beta

 

-       Cocoa suppresses COX enzymes, which suppresses inflammation marker P-Selectin - P-Selectin is involved in the initial recruitment of white blood cells to the site of injury during inflammation.

 

-       Dark Cocoa inhibits pro-inflammatory leukotrienes and COX Enzymes and increases availability of artery-dilating neurotransmitter  NITRIC OXIDE - epicatechin and other flavanols found in cocoa proved effective at inhibiting the action of pro-inflammatory leukotrienes and COX-1 enzymes. Also, availability of blood vessel-dilating nitric oxide was enhanced by consumption of flavanols, possibly explaining its beneficial effects on INSULIN sensitivity and blood pressure.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,  2005,

 

Nitric Oxide – "Blood vessel dilator”

 

-       Cocoa lowers inflammation marker C-Reactive Protein

 2009 study at John Hopkins University;

 Italian study published in the Journal of Nutrition

 

C-Reactive Protein – "Inflammation Marker"

 

      Eating chocolate stimulates the release of mood-affecting chemicals - such as endorphins, phenyl ethylamine and SEROTONIN

 

      The cocoa bean is rich in nutrients –

 

         Vitamins B1, B2, and D

         Essential minerals magnesium and iron

         Medium Chain-length Fatty Acids (MUFAs) healthy saturated fats

 

 

      Most chocolate sold/eaten is fat and sugar laden and processed by methods that destroy its inherent antioxidants

 

-       “Dutching” process - adds alkali-potash (alkalinization) to the cocoa nibs before roasting to neutralize the chocolate’s acidic flavor and alter its color. Unfortunately, this process also removes most of the chocolate’s anti-inflammatory polyphenols;

 

-       Roasting - temperatures > 100 °F, destroy chocolate’s natural antioxidant compounds

 

 

      Criteria for healthy (anti-inflammatory) chocolate

 

-       Has not been alkalized by the Dutching process

 

-       Cold processed - Dried at temps under 100 °F and cool-pressed rather than roasted. The melting point of cocoa butter is just below the human body temperature (98.6 °F)

 

-       Contains at least 70% pure cocoa;

 

-       No added saturated fats - contains cocoa butter, but NO added milk fats or hydrogenated oils;

 

-       Contains natural, low-glycemic sweeteners – E.g.s raw cane rather than refined sugar

 

      Some good brands

 

         Xocai

         Divine

         Dagoba

         Equal exchange

         Ignafire