Widely reported in recent years, the benefits of eating or drinking chocolate were welcomed with open mouths by chocolate lovers around the world. The original Georgetown University study, found that eating chocolate will reduce the risk of developing cancer. This report sent us all in search of our favourite treat that we could now indulge in guilt-free.
Not all chocolate is created equal… especially not with milk
However, only dark chocolate with a cocoa powder concentration of 70% or higher contains the cancer fighting benefits. There is one precaution when wishing to receive the maximum healthful benefits of dark chocolate antioxidants. Don’t consume milk when eating dark chocolate or for that matter any other food item that is replete with antioxidants, as it binds to the chocolate and depletes the antioxidants otherwise present.
Chocolate candy bars like your favourite snack, Caramilk or Coffee Crisp, are just that – candy – and do not deliver the desired health benefits. In general, they contain 15% cocoa and are high in sugar and fat, thus not good for the waist line, blood pressure or cholesterol.The benefits - antioxidants
Chocolate is made from the beans of cacao trees, which are rich in natural antioxidants known as flavonoids. Epicatechin, is the flavonoid identified in dark chocolate. Antioxidants may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. These molecules are thought to contribute to both heart disease and cancer development. Studies have shown that people with high blood levels of flavonoids have lower risk of heart disease, lung cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, asthma, and Type 2 diabetes.
Studies using a purified preparation of pentamer, the strongest flavonoid in chocolate, located well-known tumour suppressor genes and two other proteins which regulate the cell cycle. They specifically found that the breast cancer cells stopped dividing when treated with pentamer and that all four proteins were inactivated. Furthermore, expression of one of the genes was reduced.No milk please
Additional studies on individuals who had eaten dark chocolate antioxidants, revealed that the benefit of eating dark chocolate antioxidants was negated when milk was drank separately or was part of the dark chocolate mixture. Specifically, when the level of antioxidants in the bloodstream was measured after eating milk chocolate or milk with their dark chocolate there was no increase in the epicatechim level. The conjecture of this study is that the food molecules of milk adhere to the epicatechins and prevents the assimilation of the flavonoids.
Therefore, the study concluded that when eating dark chocolate antioxidants or other richly saturated antioxidant products, it is important not to drink milk. This will allow for the full absorption and benefit of the antioxidants within those food products.The Dose
The effect of 1 1/3 oz of high-flavanol dark chocolate has shown health benefits similar to those of red wine and green tea. The higher the percentage of cocoa, the higher the flavanol content. If you eat your 1-oz piece of 70% cocoa chocolate a day and savour it slowly, it should satisfy your most serious chocolate cravings, which can help you stick to a healthy eating plan.This article has been published on the web site of The Cancer Research Society: http://newsletter.cancerresearchsociety.ca/bulletin/omni/articles/Dark_Chocolate.aspx