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Eat Chocolate to Stay Healthy?

When I first heard of these results six years ago, I was highly skeptical and felt it was a PR manipulation by the chocolate industry. However the continuing research is very compelling. Now another study confirms my earlier report on the benefits of eating chocolate. Researchers report that small daily doses of dark chocolate consumed over a two-week period improved blood vessels' ability to dilate, or expand. The key is the epicatechin, which is one of the polyphenolic bioflavanoids I mentioned in the blog entry below.

There are several warnings though. Your standard chocolate bar does not work well at all. First of all it needs to be dark chocolate, not milk chocolate. Then one needs to pay attention to the processing of the cocoa. Standard manufacturing of chocolate destroys about one-quarter to one-half of its flavonoids. Now, some companies are using processing methods with reduced heat and alkalization, which can preserve as much as 70 percent to 95 percent of the chocolate flavonoids.

So the key here will be to wait for announcements of products that employ these new processing techniques. I am plugged into the news media on this topic so I will let you know as soon as they are released. But it is very clear that this effect is real, so much so that I am going to contact the American Cocoa Research Institute for more information for a future article and also for samples to do a study.

Eurek Alert June 1, 2004

Science Blog May 31, 2004

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