Chocolate flavonoids and cholesterol

Chocolate (Theobroma cacao) has had a long history of scientific inquiry highlighting its extensive cariovascular benefits, from reducing blood lipids and bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol (1, 2) to improving endothelial integritiy in blood vessels (1), even reducing inflammation and improving cardiovascular tone and platelet function in smokers (1). To say nothing about the effect of theophylline (a major alkaloid present in dark chocolate) and its effects on asthma and airway inflammation, where it can be a lifesaving remedy; or its effects on mood and well-being.
A new study has reinforced the idea that chocolate's flavonoid content has a beneficial effect on serum lipids and bad cholesterol, helping reduce LDL by over 7% (that's 17 points for someone at 250 total cholesterol - read the review at the American Botanical Council). This continues to be great news for a chocolate-lover like myself. However, some important points bear mention:
  • Dark chocolate is the only way to go. All studies find that flavonoid concentration in dark chocolate is much higher.
  • Cocoa butter is not great in huge quantities, so I generally use cocoa powder (Green and Black's organic criollo is my favorite by far). The daily dose is between 2 and 4 tablespoons.
  • Large amounts of sugar are also not too helpful. Again, a reason to use cocoa powder instead of sweetened bars.
So, a quick recipe for a great chocolate drink:
1 to 1 and 1/2 TBS dark cocoa powder
1 TBS milk, or almond, rice, or soy milk
1 tsp honey
a pinch of cayenne

mix cocoa and milk until a nice paste is formed. Add hot water (to about 12 oz), stir in some honey, and a pinch of cayenne to taste. Excellent!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

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