The super food of the gods.
Most people think of this as exclusive to the Aztec or Mayan civilizations.
But the Inca also used it.
The Inca regarded the drink made from these beans as holy, reserved only for the high nobility of this empire that once existed in the cloudy mountaintops of the Andes.
Today, this noble bean has been transformed into sugar-packed junk food for mass consumption.
But the true variety, pure, unadulterated, grown in the rainforest jungles of Peru, is an entirely different story.
The Peruvian type derives its health benefits from flavonoids.
Again, flavonoids are plant pigments that act as antioxidants to counteract cellular damage caused by free radicals.
Peruvian cocoa contains amounts of phenylethylamine that has a mood elevating effect—without the side effects.
Calming Your Blood Pressure
It seems that chemicals in chocolate, but not tea, are as effective as hypertension drugs.
Once again, something in nature that's as effective as what the pharmaceutical giants would have us spend obscene amounts of our hard earned money on.
We see it soooo often.
Now some of you may see a cup of tea as soothing, but it turns out chocolate is more likely to lower your blood pressure.
This is according to recent German research.
Foods rich in cocoa appear to reduce blood pressure, but drinking green and black tea may not, according to an analysis of previously published research in the Archives of Internal Medicine, published by the American Medical Association.
The drop in blood pressure among participants who consumed products containing this ingredient for at least two weeks was in the same range as achieved by someone taking drugs commonly prescribed to control high blood pressure.
The fall in blood pressure could be expected to reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks by 10 percent to 20 percent, the report said.
Both chocolate products and tea contain polyphenols, a class of chemicals known to help prevent cardiovascular disease and are present in most fruits and vegetables.
But cocoa has a different type than tea, procyanids, that appear to be more active.
Currently, patients with high blood pressure are urged to eat more fruits and vegetables, although both products account for the bulk of total polyphenol consumption in Western countries.
But as we said before, don’t run down to the corner store and start gobbling up chocolate bars just yet.
Some people might believe treats such as dark chocolate just might be substituted for other high-calorie desserts, based on the study’s findings, but “we believe that any dietary advice must account for the high sugar, fat and calorie intake with most chocolate products".
So, rationally applied, chocolate products may be considered part of dietary approaches to lower hypertension risk.
A Cup Combats Cognitive Decline
A number of previous studies have suggested that dietary intake of antioxidant compounds from plant-based foods, can exert cardiovascular benefits.
Flavanols are a type of antioxidant that are found abundantly in cocoa products.
A recent study enrolled 90 older men and women affected by mild cognitive impairment (MCI), in a study in which each subject was randomized to drink varying levels of a dairy-based cocoa containing flavanols per day, for eight weeks: 990 mg, 520 mg, or 45 mg.
The subjects who consumed either 520 or 990 mg of the flavanols for two months demonstrated significant improvements on cognitive evaluations, specifically, verbal fluency and Trail making, as compared to those who drank 45 mg.
As well, the team observed that systolic blood pressure was reduced by 10 mmHg, and diastolic by 8.2 mmHg, among those who consumed 520 mg of cocoa, as compared to 45 mg.
Plasma glucose fell a mean of 0.6 mmol/L among the 990 mg group, and 0.5 mmol/L among the 520 mg group, with no differences for the 45 mg group.
The study authors conclude that: "regular consumption of these flavanols might be effective in improving cognitive function in elderly subjects with mild cognitive impairment.
This effect appears mediated in part by an improvement in insulin sensitivity."
Try this Dark Chocolate Truffle recipe.
These are simply amazing!
Prep and Cook Time: 15 minutes
1/2 c. pitted prunes
1/4 c. pitted dates
3 Tbs. almond butter
1 Tbs. maple syrup
3 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa
1/2 c. finely grated unsweetened coconut
In a food processor, drop the prunes and dates through the feed hole one by one.
Scrape the processor bowl and run until the prunes and dates are smooth.
Add remaining ingredients except for the coconut.
Run until smooth and scrape the bowl as needed.
Roll the mixture into 12 one-inch balls and roll in coconut to coat.
Refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.
This recipe makes 12 pieces, so you might want to double this recipe.Tweet
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