This is an update as there has been much research in the last couple years on the benefits of cocoa. Cocoa is chocolate before sugar or dairy products are added. As we have expressed multiple times, if chocolate is 60 to 80% cocoa and the first ingredient is not sugar, it qualifies as being high quality cocoa. Much of this research has been done by the Taube Center for the Aging Brain at Columbia University. Research has shown a 14% increase in memory in just 12 weeks mainly due to the increased flavonoids in cocoa which can help you recall current and old memories. Spatial memory can also be improved. This is, for example, where did I park my car? or where did I put my keys? In 50-70 year old’s they did brain scans in found a 24% increase in the finding ability on memory tests with the increased flavonoid cocoas. Word recall was also increased 31% in just eight weeks, and they also they found a 21% increase in the brain test afterwards.
Why is this? Why does cocoa have this benefit? The answer is because cocoa contains over 800 different healthy compounds, including amino acids, fatty acids, like phenyl ethylene, and methyl xanthine. Basically, these compounds add important nutrition to the aging brain. The effects are that you can feel calmer, you feel a hypoconnectivity factor, this makes you feel important and well connected with a sense of well-being. This is probably because cocoa can increase dopamine in the brain. And dopamine makes us feel accomplishment, relaxed and comfortable.
The cortex of the brain tells you where you are. Proper consumption of high flavonoid cocoa in these tests has shown that blood flow to the cortex could increase as much as 60%. Cocoa has also been found to protect from future heart disease. Just 30 days of use was found to increase the Framingham Risk Score. That translates to better circulation, blood pressure and better cholesterol levels. Most of this is accomplished by dropping inflammation around the heart. 75% of heart attacks in the USA are complicated by inflammation around the heart.
So, cocoa enhances the brain, his enhances heart function, can protect our lungs from pollution and can even help protect against diabetes. Other studies have been done at Case Western University, at University of California Davis and Veterans studies also. These studies have found benefit to joints so that it is easier to navigate stairs, pain is subsided, range of motion restored, increased ability to use the treadmill and a halting of the process of degeneration in the joint.
So, just when you thought it’s Halloween and I need to give away all my candy, you are probably correct. However, if any of the candy is dark chocolate with 60 to 80% cocoa and sugar being the second ingredient, you may be able to consume some of it and reap health benefits at the same time.
Be certain to go to our website www.healthier2gether.com. We have some wonderful recipes, including dark chocolate avocado mouse, as well as webinars that will give you more information on multiple nutrition and health issues as well as more benefits of chocolate.