Cocoa powder health benefits surpass fruit

2011-02-08 08:01
Food Nutrition

Cocoa powder contains antioxidants that rival fruit for better health. Multiple studies have shown chocolate is healthy for the cardiovascular system. Now researchers have found an analysis shows gram for gram, there are more antioxidants, polyphenols and flavanols in cocoa powder than fruit juice.

In an investigation, conducted at the Hershey Center for Health & Nutrition, scientists compared antioxidants in cocoa to fruit powders. The results showed dark chocolate and cocoa both have more polyphenol, total flavanol and stronger antioxidant power than the fruit powder.

The study is not the first that shows dark chocolate has health benefits, but may be best consumed in moderation to avoid excess calories.

Professor Mark Thursz, MD FRCP, Vice Secretary of EASL and Professor of Hepatology, at Imperial College London, in an April 2010 study, found dark chocolate might protect patients from liver disease complications by lowering pressure in the blood vessels that typically leads to portal hypertension in patients with cirrhosis of the liver.

Dark chocolate has also been found t lower stress levels and boost immunity by lowering inflammatory markers that can lead to acute and recurrent heart attack.

The study was conducted at the Hershey Center for Health & Nutrition and led by Dr Debra Miller who said, "Cacao seeds are a "Super Fruit" providing nutritive value beyond that of their macronutrient composition". Which is great news for chocolate lovers."

The researchers compared cocoa and dark chocolate made from the seed of Theobroma cacao tree to powders and fruits considered "super fruits" and touted for their antioxidant and potential health benefits.

They found cocoa powder had the greatest antioxidant capacity and dark chocolate was more concentrated in total polyphenol content than the retail fruit juices and powders.

The study concluded, "Cacao seeds thus provide nutritive value beyond that derived from their macronutrient composition and appear to meet the popular media's definition of a 'Super Fruit' " The benefits of dark chocolate and cocoa may even surpass fruit, but moderation is important.

Chemistry Central Journal 2011, 5:5doi:10.1186/1752-153X-5-5
"Cacao seeds are a "Super Fruit": A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products"

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