The Health Benefits of Pure Cocoa
Quite a few studies have confirmed the potent antioxidant properties and subsequent health benefits of raw cocoa powder.
For example, a 2003 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that a cup of hot cocoa (using pure cocoa powder) had close to double the amount of antioxidants than a glass of red wine, more than double the amount of green tea, and four to five times more than black tea!
Likewise, dark unprocessed chocolate has been exonerated in several studies as actually having some positive impact on your health, such as improving your:
- Glucose metabolism (diabetic control)
- Blood pressure
- Cardiovascular system
Still, the take-home message of many of these studies is not that you should guzzle cocoa or over-indulge in chocolate, even if it’s dark, but rather, they show that dietary flavonols hold promise as a way to prevent heart disease and normalize glucose metabolism.
There are many other dietary sources of flavonols in addition to cocoa – sources that are part of a healthy, mostly raw, low-sugar diet.
Other Sources of Heart-Healthy Flavonols
It is important to realize that raw unprocessed cacao, from which chocolate is made, and which is loaded with all these beneficial antioxidants, is actually very bitter. For this reason, well over 95 percent of people don’t enjoy it.
If you do not enjoy chocolate, or want to avoid all sugar, then you can still enjoy the benefits that cocoa and chocolate provides (via flavonols) by consuming fruits and vegetables.
Red grapes, apples and tangerines are high in antioxidants, as are most all vegetables, such as spinach, kale and broccoli. Fruit for one is excellent for keeping your artieries clean. You need to be aware of certain precautions when it comes to eating fruits, and you may need to restrict your fruit intake, especially if you have diabetes.
Blueberries are the top-rated food by the USDA as far as antioxidant capacity is concerned, and they’re also a safer option if you’re diabetic, as they’re low in sugar. They also contain other chemicals like anthocyanins that are even more powerful than flavonols when it comes to protecting against free-radical damage.
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