Picture an apple cut in half and left on a table. Before long, it turns brown due to oxidation. The same thing happens inside our bodies. The cells in our bodies constantly “rust” from oxidation. Antioxidants help our body fight damage and are “thought to be effective in preventing cancer, heart disease and stroke (1).” Similar to sprinkling lemon juice on the cut apple to preserve it, antioxidants protect the cells in our bodies.
According to Dr. Richard Cutler, Director of the Anti-Aging Research Department of the National Institutes of Health, “the amount of antioxidants that you maintain in your body is directly proportional to how long and healthy you will live.” However, all antioxidants are not created equal. While dark chocolate gets much publicity for being high in antioxidants, the USDA actually scores unprocessed cocoa powder twice as high. One of those key antioxidants is flavonoids.
Dr. Norman Hollenberg, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, researched the Kuna people in Panama, who drink forty cups of raw cocoa every week. Based on the findings he stated, “We all agree that penicillin and anaesthesia are enormously important. But epicatechin (a flavonoid in cocoa) could potentially get rid of four of the five most common diseases in the western world.” Those killer diseases are stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes (2). Dr. Hollenberg told WebMD that many chocolates tout having more than 70% cocoa powder, but they don’t state that their processing destroyed most of the flavonoids. He emphasized that it’s all in the processing; cocoa powder stands by itself because it is extraordinarily rich in flavonoids (3).
(1) Jim Core. “Chocolate, More Cocoa Means Higher Antioxidant Capacity,” U.S. Dept of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, 2005, www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2005/050404.2.htm, (April 4, 2005).
(2) “Cocoa ‘Vitamin’ Health Benefits Could Outshine Penicillin,” Science Daily, 2007 www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070311202024.htm, (March 12, 2007).
(3) Lloyd De Vries. “Why Cocoa May Help Your Heart: Antioxidants are the Key - and Not Always Saved in Cocoa Processing,” CBS News, Health, 2006, www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/01/18/health/webmd/main1218304.shtml, (Jan 18, 2006).
If you eat dark chocolate for its nutritional power, look for dark chocolate rich in unprocessed/non-alkalized cocoa powder, providing 900+ mg flavonoids per serving. To eat the ideal number of antioxidants every day, you would need to eat twelve pounds of tomatoes, almost two pounds of raw spinach, two pounds of raspberries, or three pieces of unprocessed dark chocolate.
EAT MORE CHOCOLATE!
Caroline King is a distributor for the most potent antioxidant superfood available: Xocai Healthy Chocolate - dark unprocessed cacoa, over 1,000 flavonoids and the antioxidant equivalent to three cups of blueberries. Visit www.HealthyChocolateForMyFamily.com to learn about health properties and career opportunities with our growing company, or call Caroline at (404) 966-2078.