maandag 30 mei 2011

Health 1/3

While chocolate is regularly eaten for pleasure, there are potential beneficial health effects of eating chocolate. Cocoa or dark chocolate benefits the circulatory system.[49] Other beneficial effects suggested include anticancer, brain stimulator, cough preventor and antidiarrhoeal effects.[50] An aphrodisiac effect is yet unproven.
On the other hand, the unconstrained consumption of large quantities of any energy-rich food such as chocolate is thought to increase the risk of obesity without a corresponding increase in activity. Raw chocolate is high in cocoa butter, a fat which is removed during chocolate refining, then added back in in varying proportions during the manufacturing process. Manufacturers may add other fats, sugars, and milk as well, all of which increase the caloric content of chocolate.
There is concern of mild lead poisoning for some types of chocolate. Chocolate is toxic to many animals because of insufficient capacity to metabolize theobromine.[2]
A study reported by the BBC indicated that melting chocolate in one’s mouth produced an increase in brain activity and heart rate that was more intense than that associated with passionate kissing, and also lasted four times as long after the activity had ended.[51]

Circulatory benefits

Recent studies have suggested that cocoa or dark chocolate may possess certain beneficial effects on human health. This is mainly caused by a particular substance present in cocoa called epicatechin.[52] Cocoa possesses a significant antioxidant action, protecting against LDL oxidation, perhaps more than other polyphenol antioxidant-rich foods and beverages. Some studies have also observed a modest reduction in blood pressure and flow-mediated dilation after consuming dark chocolate daily.[53] Consuming milk chocolate or white chocolate, or drinking fat-containing milk with dark chocolate, appears largely to negate the health benefit.[54] Processed cocoa powder (so called Dutch chocolate), processed with alkali greatly reduces the antioxidant capacity as compared to “raw” cocoa powder. Processing cocoa with alkali destroys most of the flavonoids.[55]
One-third of the fat in chocolate comes in the forms of a saturated fat called stearic acid and a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. However, unlike other saturated fats, stearic acid does not raise levels of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream.[56] Consuming relatively large amounts of dark chocolate and cocoa does not seem to raise serum LDL cholesterol levels; some studies even find that it could lower them.[57] Indeed, small but regular amounts of dark chocolate lower the possibility of a heart attack,[27].
A study performed at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and appearing the Journal of Internal Medicine (Sep 2009), found that survivors of heart attacks who ate chocolate at least two or three times a week reduced their risk of death by a factor of up to three times compared to survivors who did not eat chocolate. The benefits were specific to chocolate and not to other sweets. [58] [59] [60] [61][62][63]

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