The truth about why we must eat chocolate everyday! (And prevent Alzheimer’s!)
The number of health benefits now associated with the cocoa bean are really quite impressive, including benefits to your heart and blood vessels, brain and nervous system, improved insulin sensitivity, and even slowing down the rate at which you age.
All chocolate is made from cacao beans- also known as cocoa beans. Cacao is chocolate.
All the antioxidant value, mineral benefits, neurotransmitter rejuvenating properties, and overall health giving qualities of chocolate are found in original cacao not a block of Cadburys. Chocolate consists of just one ingredient- no sugar, no dairy, no chemicals- that one ingredients is cacao.
Now here is what i love- the part about the antioxidants!! By now you may be starting to realize that anti oxidants are a pretty big deal in my world- the more varied sources of antioxidants you get into your daily diet, every day- the less cellular damage, oxidation and aging will occur.
Cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world- so getting the real deal- adding good quality dark chocolate into your regular diet is ideal for optimal health and longevity.
One of the antioxidants in Cacao include Poly-phenols – Poly-phenols are also found in green tea and have been shown to dramatically lower inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases, also lowering the risk of breast and prostate cancers – drinking green tea is known to reduce the incidence of throat cancers as well – handy if you don’t mind the odd cigarette!
Cacao’s antioxidant rich health benefits are also related to a compound within the bean, called Epicatechin – Epicatechin is thought to help shield your nerve cells from damage, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Please let me take a side track for a moment into the lonely and devastating world of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The rate of Alzheimer’s is dramatically on the rise within western culture, especially cultures that have adopted a high grain diet – please take note of my mention of grains. The devastation of Alzheimer’s is irreversible.
Described as a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason , make judgments and communicate. Based on solid information, the number of Alzheimer’s victims is Australia in 2004 was 170,000. It is anticipated that this number will more than double over the next two decades to somewhere between 500,000 – 600,000 people! That is an alarming rise in the disease. Which begs the question – just what are we doing these days that is having this disastrous effect on our brain function? What are we doing now that we weren’t doing previously – what has changed to increase our incidence of Alzheimer’s like this?
The causes of Alzheimer are varied- ranging from long term high blood pressure, aluminum toxicity (the obvious cause of aluminum toxicity is coming from the aluminum laden deodorants you spray directly into your arm pits each day) and obesity. It is also the poor dietary choices- in fact predominantly the poor dietary choices that can induce Alzheimer’s- please reflect back on my mention of grains earlier.
Some people are under the misconception that you have to be a heavy drinker to develop Alzheimer’s- this is not so. A life time of mere “social” drinking is enough to induce Alzheimer’s. Whaaaat!? I know- it’s true, if you considering that 100mls is the size of a standard drink (that we all like to conveniently forget about) – the social drink is one of the most damaging things you can do to your brain if it is a regular occurrence.
If you would like to learn more about how to best protect your brain from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, Dr Cabot has a great book titled “Alzheimer’s – What you MUST know to protect your brain”.
Ok- so back to the wonders of Cacao, and what could possibly be the best antioxidant of all- the Alkaloids! Its actually cacao’s alkaloids that work as an aphrodisiac on us humans. The alkaloids of theobromine and phenethylamine increase the brains serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that induces feelings of pleasure, it is Serotonin that is known to increase for the first year of falling in love. Phenethylamine is related to amphetamines, which is a central nervous system stimulant that increases energy. It peaks when you are in love and surges into the brain at the time of an orgasm. Theobromine, the primary alkaloid within Cacao has a mood elevating effect. Tryptophan, is an essential amino acid from which serotonin is formed. See- told you anti oxidants were awesome 🙂 on so many levels.
Positive health benefits science suggests are conferred by the cocoa bean:
- Anti-diabetic and anti-obesity
- Slows progression of periodontitis
- Improves gastrointestinal flora
- Improves exercise endurance
- Reduces stress hormones
- May help extend lifespan
- Lowers Alzheimer’s risk
- Improved liver function
- Reduces symptoms of glaucoma and cataracts
- Protects against preeclampsia in pregnant women
The primary fatty acid in cocoa butter is stearic acid, which is the only saturated fat that favorably affects HDL’s- you “good” cholesterol, without adversely affecting LDL, “bad” Cholesterol.
What to Look for When Selecting Chocolate
The closer your cocoa is to its natural raw state, the higher its nutritional value. Ideally, your chocolate or cocoa should be consumed raw (cacao). When selecting chocolate, you can optimize its nutritional punch by looking for higher cacao content. In general, the darker the chocolate, the higher the cacao. Cacao beans are another great snack idea.