Rejoice chocolate lovers! How about getting your chocolate fix without taking in all the fat and sugar? No more chocolate guilt and stealing secret bites.
Too good to be true?
Researchers are working on a chocolate pill to prevent heart attacks and stroke, thanks to chocolate’s health-promoting properties. Now that’s a pill-full of medicine we can get happy about.
The idea behind these chocolate-filled capsules comes from the nutrients and benefits of dark chocolate, the darker the better.
The study of the efficacy of these delicious new pills has been called “revolutionary” and is the first of its kind to measure directly the effects of cocoa flavanols on human health. Flavanols, abundant in apples, grapes, red wines and teas, are potent plant compounds good for human health in many respects. Studies show cocoa flavanols can lower the risk of dementia and support heart health. Bring on the dark chocolate!
Chocolate by pill may not have the same indulgent experience as eating a decadent square, but the long-lasting benefits may convert you.
Researchers pooled their findings of dark chocolate’s health benefits recently at a meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) this March. When dark chocolate is digested, molecules called polyphenolic polymers remain in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. When these molecules reach the colon, they come into contact with bifidobacterium – good bacteria – and lactid acid. The colon then begins to break down the molecules and use the nutrients by sending them through the gut and throughout the body.
So what exactly does all this science talk mean? Well, the results of this production are much sought-after antioxidants. They help prevent or slow cell damage to support cardiovascular health.
Dark chocolate also has the ability to dilate blood vessels and therefore lower blood pressure. In comparative studies, white and milk chocolate did not show the same effects. The milk in white or milk chocolate interferes with the absorption of antioxidants. It’s the proteins in milk bind themselves to the antioxidants, preventing them from being useful in the body.
Another notable benefit of dark chocolate is an increase in fiber (we can all use more fiber, right?). For 100 g of dark chocolate, you’re ingesting 7 g of fiber. You just need about 3.5 to 7 ounces a day to experience the benefits. In fact, studies have shown that individuals who consume dark chocolate (in moderation) more than five times a week have an overall lower body mass index (BMI).
A recent study out of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University found that cocoa’s unique flavanols help fight both obesity and type 2 diabetes; consuming cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, prevents weight gain and lowers blood sugar levels.
Mars Inc., the creator of many popular chocolate sweets, along with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, will work together to develop the dark chocolate pill, promising all the heart-boosting benefits of dark chocolate. One capsule will be equivalent to eating multiple chocolate bars, minus the added sugar and fat we’re all concerned about. A typical grocery store chocolate bar contains roughly 18 g of fat, 220 calories and 8 g of sugar. The pill formulation and concentration of cocoa flavanols is still in development.
To develop the pill, researchers are planning a year-long study to follow 18,000 males and females nationwide. They’ll examine the effects of dark chocolate on cholesterol, blood pressure and other heart-related factors, which have all shown promise in previous research. To that end, the researchers are also developing a multivitamin with dark chocolate properties as a method for cancer prevention. A control group will receive placebo pills and the new multivitamin to compare at year’s end.
Although you’ll have to wait some time before dark chocolate pills become available, you can still enjoy a bar (or two) of dark chocolate in its traditional form, square by square.
However, don’t go for the king-sized Oh Henry! bar. Some pointers to help you choose a healthy dark chocolate:
● Make sure it’s made with real cocoa
● Flavanol friendly – this is what gives your chocolate the power for good! Without flavanols, you might as well be having milk chocolate
● Ensure cocoa beans are not roasted – this can take away from the benefits and remove flavanols
● Aim for a dark chocolate with 72 percent or higher cocoa – the flavors will be bolder, but the benefits will also increase
There now! Don’t you love a good news story about chocolate?