Cocoa or sweet aspirin
Something about “sweet aspirin.” In Montezuma’s treasure trove, 25,000 hundredweights of cocoa were collected as taxes, and now there are more than three thousand publications and three hundred clinical studies on cocoa. I am on a caffeine detox and added cocoa as a traditional morning drink. The active ingredient in cocoa, theobromine, is a much weaker antagonist to adenosine than caffeine, has a weak effect on the brain, and carries no risk of addiction. Theobromine relaxes smooth muscles (expands bronchi, lowers the vascular tone, increases blood flow in the heart’s arteries, etc.).
The critical components of cocoa are various polyphenols, of which there are many in cocoa, up to 50 mg per gram! The more polyphenols, the more bitterness. Plants accumulate them for protection against parasites, and we use them for our health. Cocoa polyphenols are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds: procyanidin, epicatechin, catechin, epigallocatechin, quercetin, anthocyanins, luteolin, vitexin, naringenin, and others. Polyphenols bind Fe2+ and Cu+, suppress many systems, and stimulate the antioxidant system.
Cocoa also contains a lot of fiber, with 3.4 grams of fiber in 100 grams of chocolate. Cocoa increases the proportion of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli and reduces the number of clostridia.
The effects of cocoa components on the cardiovascular system are well studied. Epicatechin in cocoa causes most of the studied positive effects. Cocoa increases the production of nitric oxide (NO) and prostacyclin, suppresses endothelin-1 and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), suppresses the activity of the NF-κB pathway, reduces platelet aggregation and blood monocyte activity, and reduces the expression level of adhesion molecules in leukocytes. Studies with 500–800 mg of flavonoids daily showed significant vasodilation (+ theobromine also relaxes). Regular cocoa consumption generallyleads to a decrease in systolic blood pressure by 4–5 and diastolic blood pressure by 2 mm. Observations show that chocolate lovers have lower mortality rates from cardiovascular diseases and a 20% lower risk of atrial fibrillation.
Cocoa reduces appetite and the risk of overeating. Cocoa increases insulin sensitivity and reduces the risk of diabetes. The effect is observed when consuming 900 mg of flavonols, whereas milk chocolate does not show this effect. Cocoa moderately affects the lipid profile: consuming one bar a day reduces total cholesterol by 7% and LDL cholesterol by 12%, and increases HDL cholesterol by 4%.
Cocoa protects neurons from inflammation. The relationship between chocolate consumption and C-reactive protein level has a J-shape: the minimum values are observed in people consuming 20 grams of dark chocolate. Cocoa improves visual acuity and the ability to distinguish contrasting colors. Flavonoids prevent the death of neurons by reducing excitotoxicity. Elderly people who drank two cups of unsweetened cocoa demonstrated improved cerebral blood circulation and better test results. Cocoa also helps the skin by reducing sensitivity to ultraviolet light. Regular consumption of cocoa for 12 weeks reduces sensitivity to UV by 25%, and high consumption can reduce it by almost 2 times. At the same time, it increases blood flow in the dermis and saturates the skin with oxygen.
Products with the highest flavonoid content are fermented beans, nibs, ground cocoa, and cocoa powder with 100%, 95%, and higher chocolate. The more bitter the chocolate, the more flavonoids it contains. Often, to reduce bitterness and increase solubility, cocoa is treated with alkalis (dutching), which sharply reduces their content by 30–60%. Such cocoa has a darker color compared to natural cocoa. Nevertheless, there are still a lot of flavonoids compared to regular products. As for the flavonoid content itself, it varies greatly. Since the more flavonoids, the higher the bitterness, many manufacturers reduce it…
Such cocoa has a darker color compared to natural cocoa. However, there are still many flavonoids compared to regular products. As for the flavonoids themselves, their quantity varies greatly. Since the more flavonoids, the more bitterness, many manufacturers reduce their content. The range can vary from 136 to 440 mg of flavonoids in a 40-gram portion of chocolate, with the best varieties containing 500 or more mg per 40 grams. If we are talking about cocoa, one teaspoon (5 grams) contains 37 to 130 mg of flavonoids. The dose of flavonoids that allows for most of these effects to be achieved is 200 mg or more (800–1000) per day. This is many times more than in tea and wine. The dangers include an increased risk of reflux (remember about relaxation, right?), and children should not have too much — cocoa contains oxalates and there is a risk of kidney stones. And what is your relationship with cocoa?”