Many have heard that chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is actually good for your health. Specifically, the word is that the antioxidants in cocoa are the beneficial components to chocolate. Studies do back these claims, but is it a license to eat chocolate all in the name of health? Probably not. CocoaWell is a product that aims to provide the benefits of cocoa without all the sugar and calories of chocolate.
Hershey recently conducted a study that found that the antioxidants in cocoa powder are at a higher level than any of the major “super fruits.” Acai, blueberry, cranberry, and pomegranate are often renowned as the highly powerful antioxidant fruits.
Harvard research has also documented that the Kuna Indians from the San Blas Islands near the Panama Coast consume more cocoa than any other people in the world. They typically consume about 6 cups a day or 40 cups of cocoa a week. Additionally, the Kuna have 1/9 the occurrences of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and cancer.
The case study seems to provide a lot of evidence for the benefits of cocoa. However, cocoa’s natural taste is very bitter which is why it is often mixed with sugar and cocoa butter. By that point, the health benefits have been largely negated. That is why CocoaWell created their cocoa supplements. The company puts pure cocoa in capsules allowing one to get large doses of the antioxidant rich cocoa without all the sugar and calories of chocolate.
CocoaWell describes the many health benefits of their product. “Our formulas are enhanced with Pure Plant Flavanol Complex, an exclusive blend of plant sources that deliver the incredible health benefits of flavanols such as catechin, epicatechin and EGCG. These potent polyphenols are among the most researched of all phytonutrients and support heart, brain, immunity and energy.”
DietsInReview.com’s dietitian Mary Hartley, RD shared her thoughts about the cocoa supplements.
“At this point, I haven’t read that large amounts of cocoa supplements are harmful, and so a nutrition hobbyist may choose to take them. But don’t expect them to make up for an otherwise unhealthy lifestyle.”
Hartley also points out that no supplement will replace the nutrients absorbed from healthy foods.
“Well performed placebo-controlled trials did not support that taking other antioxidant supplements – vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and others – gave substantial protection against heart disease, cancer, and other chronic conditions. The results of the largest such trials have been mostly negative. There seems to be something missing in supplements that is found in whole foods.”
Maybe we should get some cocoa recipes from the Kuna. If they’re eating it naturally, without adding sugar, and they’re not having to take it in pill form, they’re getting the best the plant has to offer. Until then, seems like there’s no free pass on chocolate and maybe no good reason to spend the money on the supplements.
March 6th, 2012