Background and significance
Cocoa Flavanols –
Three months ago I had never heard of cocoa flavanols. Then I came across a magazine article describing a study conducted at Columbia University where dietary cocoa flavanols were proved to reverse age-related memory decline in healthy older adults. Cognitive performance was also significantly increased. I was intrigued and started doing some research into cocoa flavanols.
I discovered that the health benefits of cocoa flavanols have been known about for some time (See Cocoa and the Kuna for some early history). However it was only recently that the technology became available to extract concentrated flavanols from the raw cocoa bean. Before this development the only way to ingest cocoa flavanols was to eat dark chocolate or drink high quality cocoa/chocolate. This provides flavanols, but in limited quantities because the processing of raw cocoa into chocolate destroys most of the flavanols. In general, dark chocolate contains more flavanols than milk chocolate which contain almost none, but even high quality dark chocolate cannot provide the quantities of flavanols required to produce the results above. You would need to eat 10 to 15 bars a day to come close.
The new technology produces a measurable flavanol concentrate and has thus enabled effective and accurate dosage. It has also prompted a host of studies. Many of the apparent health properties of dietary flavanols are turning out to be very real. They are also turning out to be extensive. They are mostly based around improved blood circulation. All tissue and every organ in the body benefit from that. Cocoa flavanols also have strong antioxidant properties and a remarkable property called perfusion which enable them to reach parts of the brain previously inaccessible. They are also very effective at controlling cholesterol.
Please do a search of your own to find out more about cocoa flavanols. You will find many articles, reports and studies on the subject. You can then make an informed decision on whether you need cocoa flavanols. Subscribe to get updates and news on new research.
The significance of cocoa flavanols
“The health benefits of epicatechin (flavanols), a compound found in cocoa, are so striking that it may rival penicillin and anesthesia in terms of importance to public health, reports Marina Murphy in Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the SCI. Norman Hollenberg, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, told C&I that epicatechin is so important that it should be considered a vitamin.
Hollenberg has spent years studying the benefits of cocoa drinking on the Kuna people in Panama. He found that the risk of 4 of the 5 most common killer diseases: stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes, is reduced to less than 10% in the Kuna. They drink up to 40 cups of very lightly processed cocoa a week. Natural cocoa has high levels of epicatechin.
‘If these observations predict the future, then we can say without blushing that they are among the most important observations in the history of medicine,’ Hollenberg says. ‘We all agree that penicillin and anesthesia are enormously important. But epicatechin could potentially get rid of 4 of the 5 most common diseases in the western world, how important does that make epicatechin? I would say very important”
Find out more about cocoa flavanols and your health at our blog