Chocolate is derived from cocoa beans - the fruit of the cacao tree or Theobroma cacao (the latin term: food of the gods). Recent published articles demonstrate that the quality and quantity of the antioxidants in cocoa and chocolate are very high and their flavonoids are believed to reduce the number of free radicals in the body that contribute to medical problems, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer and also to offer some anti-aging health benefits. Cocoa can lower the leukotriene/ prostacyclin ratio and is shown to have beneficial effects on platelets and possibly inflammation and vessel dilation. They inhibit low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation, raise the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) level and reduce the thrombotic tendency. Their antioxidant catechin content is four times that of tea. They help the body process nitric oxide. Their flavanols and procyanidins have inhibitory effects on hemolysis, they can also attribute as a defense against reactive oxygen species (ROS) and can inhibit their carcinogenic processes. Also they are shown to inhibit growth and polyamine biosynthesis of human colonic cancer cells. They contain tryptophan and anandamide, which lessen anxiety, promote relaxation and trigger the production of endorphins. Cocoa can prevent dental caries and may play a regulating role in the function of the immune system and prevent infectious and autoimmune diseases.
Keywords: Cacao, Cocoa, Chocolate, Antioxidants, Flavanols, Caffeine
Cacao Increases Longevity
At five-year intervals over a 15-year period, 470 men aged over 65 were questioned about their dietary intake of cocoa and received physical examinations. The men were placed in three groups according to their level of cocoa consumption and data about their health was collected. During the study, 314 men died, 152 due to cardiovascular disease.