Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Chocolate: The "Candy" with Powerful Medicinal Properties

Sayer Ji, Contributor
Activist Post

Chocolate is clearly one of the most enjoyed foods on the planet, with millions of pounds produced annually, and has one of the oldest documented histories of use going all the way back to the year 1100 BC in South America.

And yet, many people still harbor guilt about consuming it because they associate chocolate with "candy" (which logically follows from the fact that it is in the candy section in stores where you will find it), having never been exposed to the impressive body of pre-clinical and clinical research indicating that it may actually be closer to a "medicine" than a candy.

Indeed, in a previous post, we discussed how chocolate might just give the $29 billion dollar statin drug industry a run for its money, since a 2006 study found that regular chocolate consumption may reduce cardiac mortality by 50%. And this was based on a study where subjects only consumed 2.11 grams a day, or just one half ounce a week!

Now, newer research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has revealed that the consumption of chocolate, or its active constituents (cocoa, flavan-3-ols), reduces a broad range of risk factors for cardiovascular disease, some of which include insulin resistance.

The researchers looked at 42 acute and long-term studies and found a 33% median reduction in insulin resistance following chocolate consumption.

What is so unique about this new study is that chocolate consumption is generally believed to elevate blood sugar and blood insulin levels by increasing insulin resistance.

The new study not only reveals this as being a myth but sheds additional light on why chocolate consumption (especially dark, organic chocolate) may be beneficial in both the prevention and treatment of type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. The #1 benefit involved is cocoa/chocolate's well-known ability to improve endothelial dysfunction. Elevated blood sugar leads to glycation (basically, oxidation and caramelization of blood sugars), which leads to sticky sugar-protein and sugar-lipid complexes that damage the lining of the blood vessels and other organs leading to their dysfunction. Diabetics may respond quite well to the artery-dilating effects of cocoa, and may see a reduction in morbidity and mortality as a result.

Chocolate Has 40+ Evidence-Based Health Benefits

This comes in the wake of over a decade worth of research revealing that chocolate and/or cocoa has been shown to lower blood pressure, prevents or ameliorates endothelial dysfunction (a primary contributor to atherosclerosis), protects against coronary artery disease, reduces stroke risk, prevents cholesterol oxidation (which converts healthy lipoproteins into artery-damaging ones), to name only 5 of 40+ potential health benefits associated with its regular consumption. To view the entire gamut of potential health benefits associated with consuming chocolate or cocoa-containing foods, visit our page dedicated to the topic which lists over 40 health benefits here: Chocolate Health Benefits.

Any serious discussion on the medicinal properties of chocolate should be qualified by pointing out that chocolate is often unfairly traded, and has even been linked to child enslavement. Non-organic cocoa may also contain residues of the dangerous herbicide glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup), among many other biocides used in conventional farming, so the consumer must take special care to avoid these moral and physiological pitfalls.

Also, many seemingly independent brands such as Dagoba or Green & Black have been bought up by super-corporations such as Hershey's and Cadbury, respectively. This means that while you think you may be eating the highest quality chocolate, it may actually be connected to less than ideal sourcing and/or trade practices. In other words, do your homework first please.

Also, because chocolate has complex pharmacologically active properties, it must be consumed in moderation, and with attention paid towards the tendency for using it to self-medicate, especially when the cocoa content is lower and the sugar content higher.

This article first appeared at GreenMedInfo.  Please visit to access their vast database of articles and the latest information in natural health.


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Paul Panza said...

Doubtful that I will be consuming any in it's popular form with such deadly additives such as sugar and dairy products.

Joe said...

Paul P, I know sugar is terrible, but can you elaborate on why you say dairy products, especially butter and cream, are deadly? Can you provide some links? Last I checked, transfat containing margarines are way way worse than organic dairy products. And cheese contains vitamin K2 which is known to have protective benefits.

Anyway, suit yourself if you think dairy is deadly. Many don't.

But maybe one answer is to buy raw organic cocoa, which contains zero sugar, and use it in one's own recipes.

Here's an easy one: Warm up some cream or half-and-half, and dissolve raw cocoa powder in it. As much as you like. DO NOT ADD ANY SUGAR!

The intense taste doesn't take too much getting used to, and after having it a few times, I find "sugared" chocolate pretty disgusting.

If you can't stand dairy, just dissolve raw chocolate in pure hot water. It's fairly good like that once you get used to it, and it makes you feel great in moderation!

KenBrodeur said...

Fun and healthy way to eat chocolate. Using artisinal or real bread and organic ingredients, toast and butter a piece of bread, take a blackened banana (it is easier to spread) spread it on the butter toasted bread, sprinkle cocoa powder and cinnamon on top and enjoy!
warning: this treat could lead to abundant energy and activity and not recommended before bedtime!
Bon Apetite!

Anonymous said...

Vivani makes a great, very fine dark chocolate with just organic cocoa liquor, sugar & cocoa butter. I love the 70%, and the 80% is pretty good too if you prefer less sugar. A large part of the healthful content of chocolate is the cocoa butter, which is the only fat I know of that will not go rancid, it's that high in antioxidants.

Vivani is made in Germany. It's about the only really good chocolate I can find in the US anymore, all the others have been ruined by adding lecithin, or are owned by Nestle, apparently.

I've found it on a few web sites selling for around $3.40 for a 3.5oz bar, which is also the lowest price I've found for this high of quality organic chocolate. It's the best I've found to date (please let me know of any other, similar or better products!)

Mary said...

Vivani dark chocolate is AWESOME. I buy it for $2.93 for a 3.5 oz bar at iherb.com. At the check out, use this referral code for even more of a discount ($5 or $10 depending on your order): PQL147. Plus, there's free shipping with orders over $20. Lots of Vivani chocolates to choose from -- and it's all organic.

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