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Candy As Medicine. Since you love your father, on Father’s Day, give him dark chocolate.

June 21, 2009

Candy as Medicine

Father’s need chocolate. Dark Chocolate  is a healthy food that works like a medicine on the cardiovascular and immune systems. Dark chocolate is rich in plant molecules called flavanoids (flavan-3-ol) and procyanoidins. Dark chocolate decrease C- reactive protein, modifies the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, the synthesis of eicosanoids, the activation of platlets (prevents blood clots),and nitric-oxide mediated mechanisms (lower bllod pressure).  All great “candy as medicine” tricks.

Flavanol-rich cocoa: a cardioprotective nutraceutical.

Island People of Kuna Panama  (excerpt from The Sweet Smell of Success)

People with a sweet tooth like chocolate and so do the people of the Kuna Island tribe of Panama. This tribe has a remarkably low incidence of the various heart diseases, diabetes, and cancer in the older population. Interestingly, cocoa beverages are a principle portion of their diet. Researchers found that the risk of four out of the five most common killer diseases—cancer, diabetes, stroke, and heart failure—was reduced to less than 10% in the Kuna people, who drink up to forty cups of epicatechin-rich cocoa a week. This suggests that drinking cocoa rich in flavanols can positively affect blood sugar metabolism, cancer risk, and reverse impairment in the functioning of blood vessels, such as that caused by atherosclerosis.

In a study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology (Hollenberg, 2006), male smokers, a group known to have problems with blood vessel function, were given cocoa drinks made with different levels of flavanol, ranging from 28 to 918 mg. In each group studied, the optimal effect of increased blood flow occurred after two hours. Blood vessel performance improved 50% with 179 mg of flavanols and continued to rise proportionately with increasing flavanol content.

The improvement in blood vessel function for the highest level of flavanol, 918 mg, was so great that it was equal to that found in a person with no known cardiovascular risk factors. The study was followed with a seven-day sustained trial, in which participants were given three drinks a day, totaling 918 mg. Blood vessel performance was monitored at intervals over the day, and then for a week after participants stopped taking the chocolate beverage.

The researchers said that blood vessel benefits from consuming the flavanol-rich cocoa for a week were comparable to “long-term drug therapy with statins,” the cholesterol-lowering medication. A possible conclusion of the study is that the active ingredients in cocoa are so powerful that they should be classified as great a discovery as anesthesia and so beneficial that they should be called vitamins.

The power of the flavanol family of antioxidants is remarkable. Chocolate, with its high antioxidant content from flavanols such as epicatechin, translates into magnified oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) values that translate into less oxidative stress-induced free radical damage and thus much better health.
James Geiger MD

the oilMD

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