Myth-Melting Study Finds Chocolate Burns Belly Fat, Improves Cholesterol

healthy chocolate

A new study published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences has revealed something quite counterintuitive about chocolate, one of the world’s most prized ‘high-fat’ foods.  This strangely medicinal ‘sweet treat,’ which ironically you find in the candy aisle at the pharmacy, improved markers of cardiovascular disease, including the reduction of belly fat, and only after one week of consumption.

Researchers from the Department of Neuroscience, Division of Human Nutrition, University of Tor Vergata, Rome, in a paper titled ‘Effects of dark chocolate in a population of Normal Weight Obese women: a pilot study,’ describe the effects of 100 gram of dark chocolate taken for one week (approximately a 3 ounce bar) in so-called ‘normal weight obese (NWO)’ syndrome subjects.

NWO syndrome is defined as ‘an excessive body fat associated with a normal body mass index and characterized by a higher risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality,’ and has been found to be associated with a 2.2 fold increased risk of cardiovascular mortality in women compared with those with low body fat.  Generally, those with NWO have 30% or more total body fat mass percentage and significantly higher values of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1, IL-6, IL-8 and TNF-α.

The study looked at the effects of dark chocolate consumption on the following:

  •   Blood lipid profiles
  •   Biochemical parameters (e.g. interleukins)
  •   Blood pressure
  •   Abdominal circumference (i.e. ‘belly fat’)

A modest sample size of 15 women with NWO syndrome, aged 20-40 years, were included in the study. They received 100 grams of dark chocolate (DC) containing 70% cocoa for 7-days. Dual energy-X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) was used to measure body composition. Blood pressure, anthropometric measurements, biochemical parameters and plasma levels of some cytokines were measured before and after DC consumption.

The results were described as follows:

After DC [dark chocolate] consumption, we observed a significant increase in the HDL cholesterol level, a significant decrease of total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio, LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio, and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra). In addition, a reduction in abdomen circumference was observed. We also found a positive correlation between changes in atherogenic indices, and IL-1Ra, abdomen reduction.

The authors concluded:

Our findings suggest that regular consumption of DC could be useful in maintaining a good atherogenic profile, due to the favorable effects on HDL cholesterol, lipoprotein ratios and inflammation markers.

This study should debunk several myths regarding chocolate consumption, such as ‘it makes you fat,’ ‘it clogs your arteries,’ or ‘it is bad for blood sugar.’ While low-cocoa chocolate, which is often high in sugar and may contain cow’s milk products, preservatives and lower quality fats, may not translate into the benefits observed in this study, a high-quality, high-cocoa chocolate may go quite a long way in enhancing general health and well-being. This is especially so if one chooses organically-produced, fair-trade and preferably raw chocolate. The raw part is especially important as the potent antioxidant compounds in cocoa are found at much higher and physiologically relevant concentrations in the non-heated and unprocessed forms.  Indeed, according to the authors of this study, “[the] health properties of cocoa consumption were mainly related [in previous research] to the antioxidant properties of polyphenolic compounds, among others monomeric flavanols, epicatechin, catechin and oligomeric, procyanidins.”

The specific sample of dark chocolate used in this study was assayed to contain the following compounds:

It is believed that one of the primary lipid-modulating, and HDL-raising compounds in high-quality chocolate is the saturated stearic acid found in the cocoa butter. This is also a counterintuitive finding since many decades of propaganda has convinced the mainstream that ‘saturated’ fats are bad and ‘unsaturated’ fats are good.  As the researchers state:

Because of its high saturated fat content, chocolate is often postulated to have a hypercholesterolemic effect. However, the high content of stearic acid (~30% of fatty acids) is considered to be neutral with respect to total and LDL cholesterol, and positive on serum concentration of HDL.”

It is truly remarkable that the dark chocolate was capable of raising the so-called ‘good’ HDL cholesterol 10% within only 7 days. This is a feat pharmaceutical lipid-modulating drugs can not accomplish, unless we are talking about patented forms of niacin (Niaspan) or fish oil (Lovaza), which really don’t count since they are really just glorified dietary supplements.

Previously, we looked at how chocolate – believe it or not – could replace the need for the $29 billion dollar plus cholesterol-lowering statin drug industry, by addressing and remedying the underlying pathology of the blood vessels (endothelial dysfunction) that leads to atherosclerosis and eventual cardiac morbidity and mortality. We feel the research, if you would like to peruse it, is remarkably compelling: Chocolate Gives Statins A $29 Billion Run For Their Money.

When it is all said and done, chocolate should not be viewed simply as a natural “medicine,’ to suppress bodily symptoms or clinical parameters, as anyone who ‘loves’ the way it makes them feel can plainly tell. As my friend Marc David pointed out in his recent article on Vitamin P[leasure], the experience of joy within the enjoyment of chocolate is itself a highly medicinal ‘nutritional fact’ that will never make it onto the label of a product, nor will be easily (if ever) comprehended through clinical trials.  Let the research support what most of us already know: food can be medicine, yes, but the point is to use it in moderate, culinary doses so that mega-dose, heroic ‘medicine’ will never become necessary.

Raw, organic unprocessed dark chocolate is available at www.AllHealthyChocolate.com

 


Cacao: Nature’s Supreme Antioxidant Source – Can chocolate truly be healthy?

Healthy Chocolate

Can chocolate truly be healthy?

YES! Let’s explain why:

Everyone has heard of free radicals. It’s well known that these rogue molecules damage healthy cells, which in turn results in unhealthy tissues, organs and eventually, an unhealthy body.

Fortunately, cacao, the nutritional source of healthy chocolate, is nature’s top source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are nutrients that neutralize free radicals and slow their damage.

“…among the most important observations in the history of medicine…How important does that make [cacao antioxidants]? I would say very important.”

Harvard physician and researcher Norman Hollenberg, MD, regarding the benefits of cacao’s antioxidants.

Among cacao’s most impressive phytonutrients are several types of polyphenols, largely recognized as some of the most powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds known today. The most powerful and prominent polyphenols in cacao are flavanols.

Hundreds of studies have found that flavanols possess distinct and powerful properties, including the ability to:

  • Minimize inflammation throughout the body
  • Slow free radicals
  • Protect the heart and blood vessels
  • Support the immune system
  • Promote antibacterial/antiviral activity in the body
  • Relax and dilate blood vessels
  • Modify blood sugar levels
  • Protect the brain
  • Preserve cellular integrity
  • Protect and repair the liver
  • Positively modify hormone activity
  • and much more!

 


The High-Antioxidant Answer to Weight Loss

 

The Xocai High-Antioxidant Wellness System is the first and only of its kind

Everyone loves chocolate, right?  But when it comes to healhty foods, most people don’t typically include chocolate on the list.  For decades, we’ve been told repeatedly that chocolate is a sinful indulgence, loaded with fat, sugar and calories, that contributes only to poor health.  That view, however, is changing as a huge body of research overwhelmingly shows that cocoa and chocolate possess a wide range of health benefits from cardiovascular and brain health to improved energy and immune function.

When talking about chocolate and its health benefits, it’s crucial to know one thing – not all chocolate is created equal.  Steven Warren, M.D., Xocai’s chief scientific officer, says that unlike commercially produced chocolate, Xocai’s products utilize a premium-grade, healthy chocolate unlike any other on the market.  “Because we process our cocao properly, our chocolate retains optimal levels of natural antioxidants, cocoa butter and other vital nutrients,” says Dr. Warren.  “Even better is that our chocolate delivers a rich, robust chocolate flavor that surpasses most chocolates out there.”

Cacao is an Antioxidant Powerhouse

Over the last couple of decades, scientists have increasingly focused on cocoa and chocolate as well as cacao, the plant food they are made from, as a source of optimal nutrition.  The primary aspect of cacao’s health benefits resides in it being one of the top antioxidant containing foods known today.  Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize free radicals or rogue molecules that damage cells and tissues in the body and contribute to literally dozens of diseases.

Cacao contains several classes of antioxidants, including flavanols and flavonoids, both of which are known to protect the body in a variety of ways.  “Cacao truly is unique in its antioxidant profile,” says Dr. Warren.  “Hundreds of studies show that the flavanols and other antioxidants in cacao are powerful protectors of the human body.”

Chocolate Comes Full Circle

When chocolate was first created from cacao beans by Mesoamerican cultures thousands of years ago, it was a drink that retained the antioxidant richness of cacao.  Not too long after it was imported to Europe, however, chocolatiers discovered that adding alkali to cacao, a process called “dutching,” could reduce the bitterness of the cacao and improve its flavor.  Unfortunately, dutching also significantly degraded the nutrient content of the chocolate.

Modern chocolate manufacturers have continued the practice of “dutching,” as well as the incorporation of sugars, unhealthy fats, and chemicals.  “The end product of most chocolates little resembles the antioxidant-rich cacao brought forth centuries ago,” says Dr. Warren.  “In fact, chocolate candy became one of the modern world’s first ‘junk’ foods.”

The good news is that Xocai has recaptured the original nutritional goodness of cacao, thanks to a proprietary cold-processing method that does not destroy the flavanols and other nutrients found naturally in cacao.  Xocai’s chocolate also retains natural cocoa butter, uses low-glycemic natural sweetners, and does not contain “fillers” such as milk solids, oils, or artificial preservatives.

In fact, so revolutionary was Xocai’s chocolate that it was the original creator of the healthy chocolate category.  Its continued development of unique products and commitment to the highest quality of nutrient-rich chocolate allows Xocai to continue at the forefront of the healthy chocolate industry.

Xocai Shows Weight Loss Potential

Mentioned earlier are several health benefits of dark, healthy chocolate.  One other benefit of regularly consuming cacao that is now coming to light is that of healthy, sustained weight loss.

The obesity plague in modern society is real.  In fact, health experts are now saying that obesity is overtaking heart disease as the number-one killer in America.  Obesity costs the country as much as $147 billion every year, not to mention countless lives and untold suffering, and that amount will certainly contiue to grow.

Interestingly, however, science is beginning to make a strong connection between free radical damage, also known as oxidative stress, and weight gain.  Free radicals are unstable rogue molecules that roam the body, damaging cells, tissues and organs.  The results of oxidative stress are widespread and include heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.  Now, scientists are adding obesity to that list.

The good news is that a high-antioxidant diet can help neutralize free radicals and the increased tendency of gaining weight.  Xocai High-Antioxidant Weight-Loss System, which features its renowned antioxidant powerhouse cacao, is the first and only high-antioxidant program to give consumers the tools they need to get rid of those unwanted pounds.