Cocoa’s healing power

Let’s be clear from the very beginning; this article is about the health benefits from cocoa and not chocolate. Most times when a study on cocoa appears the headlines are about chocolate but in fact chocolate is a sugary, sometimes milky, confection made from cocoa, the raw powder of the beans of the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao). Cocoa beans do contain antioxidants but wrap them up in sugar and fat in a “chocolate” and the benefits are like a cup of water in a sandstorm. So headlines on this recent study trumpeting that chocolate could help with weight loss and diabetes were a touch off the mark, as for cocoa though, the results are more promising.

The study drew on previous research suggesting that cocoa can help with blood sugar control and weight loss. The theory has been that it is the antioxidant flavanols from cocoa that might have these effects. However, there are many different types of flavanols and many of these exist in cocoa. These researchers therefore decided to test the different flavanolsin mice to see what effects they would have.

The flavanols tested were monomeric procyanidins, oligomeric procyanidins (OPCs), and polymeric procyanidins (PCs). The mice in the study were given a high fat diet and then supplemented with these procyanidin compounds at a rate of 25mg per kilogram of bodyweight.

At that dosage it was found that OPCs were the most effective at maintaining weight of the mice and improving glucose tolerance, which would help in the prevention of diabetes.

This doesn’t mean you can lash out on chocolate and expect to lose weight or ward off diabetes. However, some raw cocoa powder added to your hot drinks, or smoothies, or even sprinkled over your muesli can be a good thing.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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