Sunday, March 9, 2008

Chocolate for Weight Loss?

Recently my Chiropractor suggested I try a multi-level marketed food made from Chocolate that is supposed to have great health benefits. I barely remember having read a couple articles the last couple years talking about newfound benefits of chocolate. It's surprising to hear of chocolate to be healthy, right? Well.. read on..

One key mentioned in the literature for this product is the difference between Cacao and normal Chocolate. Chocolate is produced from a fruit known as Cacao, with Chocolate being highly refined and usually with lots of added sugar and milk. Supposedly using a different process results in a food that's more closely related to pure Cacao and preserves a lot of health benefits. It's important to note this is not an endorsement of normal chocolate bars like Hershey's, because those food products are have lots of highly refined sugar, milk additives, fat content and more.

Cocoa Flavanol-Enriched Snack Bars Containing Phytosterols Effectively Lower Total and Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Levels was a small study of a specific snack bar containing a specific Cocoa enrichment, and it showed a reduction of LDL cholesterol in certain people.

A critical look at the effects of cocoa on human health is a careful look at the studies written by a nutritionist. ...Given the fact that chocolate is an extremely energy dense food, responsible health-care professionals should be cautious about making such recommendations, try to maintain their objectivity and not give into their confirmation bias; regardless of how much they may ‘adore' chocolate...Although it is clear that consumption of dark chocolate may not raise serum cholesterol levels, raise blood pressure or induce LDL oxidation, whether or not it can favorably affect these biomarkers of cardiovascular disease remains to be seen. The studies that have revealed improvements in these markers have used significantly greater doses of dark chocolate than have those with disappointing outcomes. This would mean that theoretically, to obtain any significant cardioprotective effects from flavonoid-rich dark chocolate, you would need to be consuming at least 100 grams daily, which would result in an additional 530 Calories per day....Consequently, trying to consume large doses of dark chocolate in order to protect ones self against these diseases may be essentially cutting off one's nose to spite one's face, so to speak.... Hmmm... It's not clear whether he's talking about highly processed modern food science Chocolate, or whether he's talking about more natural unprocessed Cacao.

Dark Chocolate Has Health Benefits Not Seen in Other Varieties is an article on webmd.com discussing studies of 'Dark Chocolate' and health benefits. Dark chocolate has higher levels of Cacao content. Even so they too say ...But that's no license to go on a chocolate binge. Eating more dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure -- if you've reached a certain age and have mild high blood pressure, say the researchers. But you have to balance the extra calories by eating less of other things....

It requires a bit of hunting to find a Cacao product, versus a normal Chocolate product. One source is the multi-level-marketed product my Chiropractor recommended, but I generally dislike that kind of product. I always think if it's such a great product then why aren't they selling it in normal stores?

Navitas Naturals offers a range of products based on pure Cacao. Benefits: Antioxidant flavonols, Scavenges free radicals, Boosts pleasure neurotransmitters, Vegan, Kosher, Raw, Organic. Macronutrients: Good Source of Fiber, Protein. Micronutrients: Magnesium, Sulfur, Calcium, Iron, Vitamin C. One of their products is 'Raw Cacao Nibs' which are very compatible with being mixed in coffee beans and ground into coffee.

Dagoba Chocolate also sells a line of chocolate products that are close to pure Cacao, support sustainable practices etc.