In good news for chocolate lovers, researchers have found benefits of cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate.
A recent symposium titled, “Cocoa: Science and Technology,” presented at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, featured 18 reports from international experts on the key ingredient in chocolate, cocoa, and the emerging health benefits and other aspects of the food that has delighted people for almost 2,000 years.
“Chocolate is one of the foods with the greatest appeal to the general population,” said Sunil Kochhar, Ph.D., one of the symposium participants. “The luscious aroma, taste and textures of chocolate have delighted the senses of people in many parts of the world for centuries and make it a well-known comfort food.”
Among the information on cocoa presented:
• Chocolate may be useful in treating of diseases involving disorders of the trigeminal nerve, including migraine and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. A study found evidence that cocoa contains biologically active ingredients that soothe the nerve’s excitability, a probable cause of these disorders.
• Findings about the biological basis of chocolate’s anti-inflammatory effects. Its rich content of polyphenols inhibit secretion of certain enzymes into the small intestine that cause inflammation.
• How chocolate may be helpful in fighting cardiovascular problems for individuals with type 2 diabetes. Flavonoids in the chocolate strengthen mitochondria, the powerhouse of body cells, which are in a weakened condition in patients with cardiovascular problems.
• Flavonoids in chocolate lower blood pressure and thus might help in reducing heart disease risks.
• A cocoa-rich diet may reduce the risk of colon cancer by preventing undesirable changes in the cells or destroying cells that form precancerous lesions.
• Eicatechin, a beneficial antioxidant especially rich in dark chocolate, strengthens cell membranes and offers protection from some forms of cardiovascular disease.