The Science Behind Cocoa For Overall Health – InVite Health Podcast, Episode 249
Invite Health Podcast, Episode hosted by Amanda Williams, MPH.
Let food be thy medicine. We can date that all the way back to Hippocrates, the father of medicine, and recognize that foods really do make such a powerful impact on our overall health. We can look at study after study that shows just that.
Today, I want to talk specifically about one particular flavanol, so this is a plant-based, food-based antioxidant that we can see so many benefits when it comes to our health. I want to focus in on something that many people have a very big fondness for and that is chocolate, but I want to talk specifically about cocoa. There are powerful active constituents found within cocoa beans and we’re going to talk about that today.†
The importance of anti-inflammatory foods
Cocoa has been studied in a wide spectrum of health. It’s really quite remarkable because, generally speaking, when people think of cocoa, they think of chocolate or milk chocolate, and this is not what we are discussing today. We’re not talking about eating candy bars. That is not where you’re going to be yielding your benefit from the actual cocoa flavonols.†
We know that there are so many studies out there showing the impact of having an anti-inflammatory diet and how this can actually reduce your risk for early death. There was a study that came out in 2018 that found that adhering to an anti-inflammatory diet was associated with a lower risk of dying from any cause, including cardiovascular disease. This study, which was published in The Journal of Internal Medicine, was looking at close to 70,000 men and women in Sweden who were between the ages of 45 years old and 83 years old. They followed these folks for over 15 years and closely followed their diets. They were looking at how closely they were adhering to an anti-inflammatory diet. The researchers found that those who most closely followed an anti-inflammatory diet had a significantly lower risk of dying from all-cause mortality. Then, when they broke it down to things such as cardiovascular mortality, we’re looking at a 20% decrease in overall risk for cardiovascular disease just by incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into their diet on a regular basis.†
Learn more about anti-inflammatory diets by tuning into the full podcast episode.
The science behind cocoa
Following a healthy diet can help us maintain healthy cells and avoid certain chronic diseases. This is why we need to look at the science behind the foods that are yielding us so many benefits.
Cocoa is one of my favorites because there is so much science behind cocoa flavanols and just how powerful they actually are. We’re talking about the actual cocoa bean itself and then we extract out the cocoa extract from inside of that bean. That matters because we’re using that in its unprocessed form. When someone goes to the grocery store and they buy a candy bar, that is processed, so they’re adding in things like fat, milk and sugar. But when we just take the cocoa bean and we take the powerful constituents that are inside of that cocoa bean, those flavanols, this is where we really see this exponential shift in terms of health benefits.†
The Journal of Nutrition, back in 2016, was looking at the intake of cocoa flavanols in the human diet and different biomarkers for cardiometabolic health, including things such as CRP, triglyceride levels, cholesterol levels, insulin levels and glucose levels. This particular study was done in conjunction with many different universities. They found that the cocoa flavanols can actually improve cardiometabolic health. They performed a systematic review and a meta-analysis of all of these different clinical trials that were looking at the impact and effect of cocoa flavanols. At the end, what they determined was that the cocoa flavanol intake had really favorable effects on cardiometabolic biomarkers, so looking at insulin sensitivity, cholesterol and all of those markers that they were detecting. Just cocoa flavanols alone were allowing for better response within the human body, which I think is really quite fascinating.†
Hear about more interesting studies relating to the benefits of cocoa by tuning into the full podcast episode.
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