How Flavonoids Give Chocolate Its Place In Wholesome Desserts

Conventionally viewed as a treat, chocolate seems to be one of the last foods that could benefit heart health. However, chocolate could have its place in healthy desserts.

A study published in July 2020 adds to the evidence Eating chocolate regularly can lower our risk of cardiovascular disease. Why? When dark and minimally sweetened, chocolate is rich in flavonoids, which have a variety of protective effects.

Healthy desserts for the heart

For this study researchers analyzed the relationship between chocolate consumption and coronary heart disease, where the heart’s own blood vessels clog. Overall, eating chocolate at least once a week was associated with an eight percent reduction coronary heart disease Risk. This was compared to eating chocolate less than weekly, but the percentage of cocoa was not reported. A total of 366,289 participants with an average follow-up period of nine years were included.

It’s not the only study that concludes in favor of chocolate and its cocoa flavonoids. In a large prospective study with almost 21,000 people A higher chocolate consumption was in turn associated with protective effects. The top fifth of chocolate intake was associated with a 23 percent lower risk of stroke. In addition, there was a 14 percent lower risk of coronary artery disease. The top fifth comprised an intake of 16 to 99 grams per day.

A higher “dose” in this study may have produced a stronger effect than in the July 2020 paper. An analysis of nine studies by the same authors found a 45 percent lower risk for cardiovascular mortality also associated with higher chocolate consumption.

Chocolate as a treatment

In addition, the effect of chocolate as a “treatment” was tested in a crossover experiment. Here the researchers prescribed 22 grams of cocoa powder and 16 grams of dark chocolate daily. Both the treatment and control groups ate a standardized average American diet. This was checked for fiber, caffeine, and theobromine (a type of methylxanthine). Chocolate supplement reduced cholesterol oxidation and increased “good” cholesterol and antioxidant capacity.

Even better, Chocolate can make the heart-healthy exercise habit more enjoyable. Another cross-over study with nine healthy men compared the effects of 40 grams of dark and white chocolate on exercise performance. Dark chocolate, but not white chocolate, greatly increased the distance they covered in a two-minute time trial. It also increased the efficiency of your body’s ability to use oxygen. White chocolate does not contain any significant amounts of cocoa flavonoids. It’s not really chocolate like that It only contains cocoa butter, milk solids, milk fat, sugar and vanilla.

The main mechanism among these benefits was most likely increased blood vessel dilation, which boosted the flow of oxygen. Another part of these effects could have been an increase in the availability of free fatty acids, which enables higher energy production.

Cocoa flavonoids and insulin resistance

Some research into chocolate’s cardiovascular benefits has also shown decreased insulin resistance. A little Italian study compared the effects of flavanol-rich dark chocolate with white chocolate over two weeks, to see if there was a difference.

All had impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and all consumed 100 grams of chocolate per day. Only the dark chocolate significantly increased insulin sensitivity and improved the function of beta cells, the pancreatic cells that produce insulin. Long-term increases in blood sugar eventually lead to damaged, poorly functioning beta cells, which contributes to the progression of IGT into diabetes. White chocolate has not been reported to produce any beneficial effects.

How flavonoids help

Why Chocolate? By weight, Cocoa has the highest concentration of flavonol of any food. These flavanols, which are a category of flavonoid, have been shown in previous studies Improve blood vessel health, prevent inappropriate clotting, and protect heart tissue. Another class of phytochemicals, methylxanthines, can improve cardiovascular function.

In addition, polyphenols help lower blood pressure, while the predominant fatty acid in chocolate, stearic acid, reduces the size of platelets. These advantages are now more important than ever Inappropriate blood clotting and hypoxia are major problems in severe COVID-19 cases.

However, the sugar and dairy products added to commercial chocolate products are likely to reduce the effects of their beneficial ingredients. Dairy products sweetened with sugar can increase inflammation and promote weight gain. which can have consequences, including arthritis. The alkalization process also results in the loss of 60 percent flavonoids. The best chocolate has a cocoa / cocoa content of at least 70 percent, a bitter taste (flavanols are bitter) and is preferably raw.

Cocoa flavonoids have shown indirect antioxidant effectsby increasing the expression of Nrf2. Nrf2 is known as a transcription factor. Many genes are created that are responsible for the production of our own antioxidants. As oxidative free radicals are an inevitable by-product of cellular energy productionwe need to balance them with antioxidants. Otherwise, tissue damage, inflammation, and accelerated aging can occur.

The healthy dessert-friendly sirtfood diet

Dark chocolate is one of the most famous inclusions in the sirtfood diet recently popularized by the possibility that it was the secret of singer Adele’s weight loss. The sirtfood diet focuses on the intake of polyphenol-rich foods that activate enzymes in the sirtuin family.

This speeds up your metabolism and can have Anti-aging effects. Strawberries, blueberries, red wine, dark chocolate, onions, parsley, celery, arugula, and citrus fruits are some of the foods on the menu. For example, a recipe on the diet’s official website, the Sirtfood Bites, combines dark chocolate and cocoa powder with walnuts, dates, turmeric, olive oil and vanilla. If you are ketogenic and this recipe isn’t for you, there are other healthy desserts to choose from Chocolate cup cake.

The prioritization of polyphenols and other “non-essential” (ie not vitamins) phytonutrients is not a new trend. In 2004, The researchers suggested a phytochemical index for nutritionto formally quantify these “non-essential” nutrients. The DPI would count the percentage of calories consumed from phytochemically rich foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and wine. Some foods, such as B. Olive oil, receive a partial credit, while refined carbohydrates and animal products would receive a zero score.

Eat well

Good food doesn’t have to be boring, especially since you can use chocolate, which is rich in flavonoids, as a small snack or ingredient in healthy desserts. Just think of the four criteria: little sugar, at least 70 percent cocoa, bitter flavors and, if possible, raw.

Alexandra Preston is an Australian naturopath who is passionate about empowering others to take responsibility for their health and heal the planet. Her particular interest in natural health is anti-aging. She also loves the beach and is a semi-professional dancer.

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