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Monday, February 07, 2011

Is Chocolate the New Superfruit?

Just one thing to remember: best to select dark chocolate and also make sure it is from fair trade, organic sources, as well as the related ingredients like sugar to avoid exposure to GMO, as Hershey seems to be using these days. 
Chocolate is the new super fruit, claim Hershey scientists
By Jane Byrne, 07-Feb-2011
Cocoa powder and dark chocolate has equivalent polyphenol content and greater antioxidant and flavanol content than various super fruits, claims a new study by research scientists based at the Hershey Center for Health and Nutrition.The authors, who published their findings in the Chemistry Central Journal said that their results indicate that cacao seeds thus provide nutritive value beyond that derived from their macronutrient composition and thus should be termed ‘super fruit’.
The fruit pulp of the Theobroma cacao pod that surrounds its seeds can be consumed; however the vast majority of people have only consumed the seed-derived portion of cacao in the form of cocoa powder or chocolate. So the goal of the study, said the Hershey scientists, was to compare cocoa powder and chocolate, products representing the commonly eaten portion of the cacao fruit, with powders and juices from so-called “Super Fruits”.
Cocoa powder and chocolate were compared with powders derived from acai, blueberry, cranberry, and pomegranate, continued the authors, on measures of antioxidant activity, as measured by oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC (μM TE/g)), total polyphenol content (TP (mg/g)), and total flavanol content (TF (mg/g)).
MethodTo limit sampling error with each analysis method, each brand of fruit powder and product was prepared and analyzed in triplicate using chemical assays, said the team.
The materials selected, they explained, included commercially available fruit powders, natural (non-alkalized) cocoa, 100 per cent non blended fruit juices, natural cocoa beverage, solid dark chocolate (60-63 per cent cacao), and hot cocoa mix.
All powders were obtained via food ingredient suppliers, while the juices, solid dark chocolate, and hot cocoa mix were obtained at retail and analyzed in the form sold to consumers.
They said that a cocoa beverage was produced by combining 240 ml water, 25 g sugar, 1 g salt, and 12 g of natural cocoa powder and was designed to have a composition similar to that of the other fruit juices. 240 ml was considered a typical single serving of fruit juice or cocoa beverage, 40 g was considered a typical single serving of dark chocolate, and 28 g was considered a typical single serving of hot cocoa mix.
ResultsThe authors’ findings demonstrated that the antioxidant capacity of cocoa powder (634 ± 33 μMTE/g) was significantly greater than blueberry, cranberry, and pomegranate powder on a per gram basis.
They said that the total polyphenol content of cocoa powder (48.2 ± 2.1 mg/g) appeared to be greater than acai, blueberry, and cranberry powder; however these differences did not reach statistical significance, added the researchers.
And the Hershey team found that the total flavanol content (of cocoa powder (30.1 ± 2.8 mg/g) was significantly greater than all of the other fruit powders tested.
Analysis of fruit products demonstrated that the antioxidant capacity of dark chocolate (9911 ± 1079 μMTE/serving) was not significantly greater, on a per serving basis, than pomegranate juice but was greater than that of all other products tested. In contrast, hot cocoa mix had significantly less antioxidant capacity (1232 ± 159 μMTE/serving) than all of the other products tested, noted the team.
“The results of the current study demonstrate that cocoa powder has equivalent or significantly higher in vitro antioxidant activity, as measured by ORAC values, compared to the tested fruit powders.Similarly, the TP content of cocoa powder was equivalent to that of the fruit powders and its TF content was significantly higher than that of all the fruit powders tested,” reported the Hershey scientists.
They also stress that the cocoa powders, cocoa beverages, and dark chocolate used in the study all contained natural (or non-alkalized) cocoa but that the hot cocoa mixes were made with alkalized cocoa.
The extent of polyphenol destruction, continue the researchers, is proportional to the degree of alkalization and change in the water extractable pH of the resulting powder antioxidant capacity and polyphenol content may be severely diminished in alkalized cocoa powder and products made with alkalized cocoa.
“Alkalinization is used to mellow the flavor of cocoa, however the process has been shown to destroy polyphenolic compounds and is likely responsible for the significant differences in ORAC, TP, and TC values observed between hot cocoa mix and the other cocoa products,” commented the team.
Source: Chemistry Central Journal
Selections from Natural Health News

Sep 13, 2006
Chocolate, in its natural powder form has been known to be an herb/food or great anti-oxidant value for centuries. Of course it is the Western maintream crowd that thiks they just discovered the benfits of these wonderful natural things ...
Dec 03, 2007
Of course the chocolate was plain cocoa powder or raw chocolate. While we love it in its marketed form we should consider the downside of too much of sweetened and fat added treat. Organic and non-GMO chocolate is the best kind for ...
Aug 11, 2008
Adding on to the thread regarding studies I can't overlook something that struck me as exemplifying mediocrity while reading an abstract about the anti-inflammatory benefits of chocolate. One star-struck doctor seems to take the prize ...

Cocoa For Better Brain Blood FlowSubstances in cocoa protects your health from stroke, myocardial infarction, cancer and diabetes.
Flavanoli from cocoa improve blood flow to the brain, shows study published in the magazine “Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment.”
Experts have found a beneficial cocoa effect to the flow of blood in brief and long-term tests to the brain and, and they believe that is responsible for the positive effect of antioxidant flavanoli activity.
The authors suggest that better long-term flow
of blood has a positive impact on cognitive abilities, but also provides protection against dementia.
Science research have confirmed what was known from the Aztec’s time – cocoa encourage brain to create enorfina (brain sedative and anesthetics), which leads to relaxation, and eliminate stress and pain.
Cocoa stimulates dopamine and serotonin secretion (carriers of brain information), which increase mood level- the effect is the reason why depressed people eat huge quantities of chocolate.
Cocoa is the source of mental health and good mood, rather than synthetic drugs has no adverse effects.


ChocolateCentral said...

I have investigated the health claims about chocolate for an article I wrote on my blog I used research out of Harvard Medical School, among other university research centers. I'm skeptical to listen to what Hershey researchers have to say. Sorry. Call me synical, but they have a vested interest in seeing the data in favor of chocolate as a health food. I agree with you that we need to choose organic and fair-trade chocolate to avoid GMO ingredients, as well as harmful chemicals. I am a subscriber to Natural Health News, as are my mother and sister. Keep up the great reporting.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if their is a limit with the amount of chocolate the body can take, but when I have it now I break out in a rash. I have since stopped consumption of all cocoa products. Sad times for me.

Anonymous said...

Chocolates are liked by everyone. So if anyone who is taking this chocolate can be beneficial for teen, such that it also contains dry fruits. So that makes them healthy.