- Jessica Bradley
Humans have been eating chocolate for hundreds of years. During most of that period, it was consumed as a liquid made from cocoa beans.
Some, but not all, cultures have added sugar, milk, and glitter wrappers. But those who still consume cocoa in the traditional form have sparked a debate about whether chocolate can be good for our health.
For example, it has been observed that Kuna Indians who live on the San Blas Islands in Panama have low blood pressure, which does not rise with age, and their risk of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and cancer is low, while their average life is high, according to Margie McCullough is director of pathology research for the American Cancer Association.
Contrary to the scientific consensus that eating large amounts of salt can raise blood pressure, their food contains the same amount of salt as the diet of the average American.
McCullough visited the Kuna Indians to find out exactly what they ate on a daily basis. I discovered that they consume about four cups of cocoa mixed with water and small amounts of sugar per day.
But Makalu cannot attribute the Kuna Indians’ good health to drinking cocoa — especially since they eat twice as much fruit and four times as much fish as the average American.
Lots of other observational studies have looked at the heart-health benefits of dark chocolate, but Harvard Medical School Professor Jo Ann Manson says those studies may be biased because people who eat chocolate regularly tend to have fewer concerns about their weight. And they may be healthy from the start, she adds.
In one study, researchers examined the diet and health status of nearly 20,000 people and found a link between eating 100 grams of chocolate – including milk chocolate – per day and a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. The researchers took into account other factors that may have influenced this, such as levels of smoking and exercise, but said there may be other causes than chocolate.
Then came a large clinical study that took into account other possible causes such as diet and lifestyle. The study was based on speculation that cocoa’s health benefits may be due to its high level of flavonoids, which are plant compounds that are also found in cranberries and tea.
Another study, including 21,000 people, concluded that taking 400 to 500 milligrams of nutritional supplements containing flavanols (a type of flavonoids) found in cocoa can reduce the risk of death from heart disease, by reducing blood pressure and inflammation. In the body.
The scientists used the supplements instead of the cocoa itself because the concentration of flavonoids in chocolate varies widely from brand to brand, and depends on the processes of harvesting, processing and processing the cocoa beans, says Professor Manson, who was also the lead author of the trial. Dark chocolate may contain up to four times the amount of flavonoids found in tea, but research has shown that the flavanol content decreases during the manufacturing process.
As a result, there is currently no consensus on how much flavanols a person needs to eat to have any health benefits, says Gunter Kunle, professor of nutrition and food sciences at the University of Reading in the UK.
And while the European Food Standards Authority says about 200 milligrams of flavonoids, or 10 grams of dark chocolate, is beneficial, more recent scientific data suggests you likely need to eat 500 milligrams a day to achieve any health benefits — the equivalent of that weight of chocolate bar. 30 grams.
“I don’t think any attempt to increase the flavanol content in chocolate would make it a ‘health food’,” says Konleh.
Dark chocolate also contains something else that we don’t know much about. With the exception of coffee, it is one of the few sources of the vegetable molecule theobromine.
Professor Chris Alford, Professor of Applied Psychology at the University of the West of England, says theobromine, while a stimulant – is in the same family as caffeine – gives you a “quieter” stimulant boost than caffeine. The darker the chocolate, the stronger the batch.
“If you eat a lot of dark chocolate, you might get a big activity boost, but theobromine gives a nicer, quieter boost than caffeine,” Alford says.
For those who fear that chocolate may increase the risk of heart disease, some researchers say there is no need to avoid it.
Also, dark chocolate usually contains sugar, but one way to avoid this is to eat chocolate that has a higher percentage of cocoa than that of milk chocolate.
Dark color and hard-to-market flavour
Testing the effects of flavanol supplements does not take into account the other components of chocolate, namely sugar and saturated fat. Dark chocolate usually contains cocoa butter, which is rich in saturated fat, which has often been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
“The fat in chocolate comes from cocoa butter, and while the evidence suggests that stearic acid (stearic acid) has a neutral effect on cholesterol, a third of the fat in cocoa butter,” says Professor Eden Cassidy, Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast. They are saturated fats and are harmful to health.
While researchers have not explicitly recommended eating chocolate to prevent heart disease, one of the scientific papers published in this regard concluded that regular consumption of dark chocolate is likely to have overall health benefits, and that the strongest evidence is for heart health.
Dwayne Mellor, a dietician at Aston College of Medicine, says that eating small amounts of dark chocolate can help overcome unhealthy eating habits.
He explains, “Small amounts of chocolate are not harmful, and it can change your relationship with chocolate, because you can enjoy a small amount of it without feeling guilty. The bitterness of the taste usually limits your intake.”
The problem is that the more flavonoids in a chocolate bar, the more bitter the taste, which makes it harder to market.
“There is a conflict between the beneficial components of cocoa, and what we need to add to make it edible and enjoyable,” Mellor says.
What complicates matters further is that the presence of sugar and fat in chocolate makes it easier for the body to absorb it and benefit from it.
Mellor adds: “Some types of flavanols are complex bio-compounds, and one way to facilitate [استفادة الجسم منها] It’s adding sugar to it.”
There is not enough research to determine the optimal ratio of flavanols and sugar content in chocolate.
Also, there is no way to know what percentage of flavanols we are getting.
Professor Konleh says: ‘Chocolate is not a healthy food, and given the amount of sugar and fat in most chocolate products, the benefits of flavanols are minimal compared to the harmful effects of eating too much.
Finding the perfect taste
There appears to be a growing number of “bean-to-bar” companies producing chocolate with a higher cocoa content and focusing on preserving taste, rather than on the potential health benefits.
But what if the process of preserving the cocoa bean’s flavor accidentally results in a healthier chocolate?
Cocoa beans grown in the Pacific islands of the Solomon Islands are harvested as soon as they are ripe, says Martin Oder, co-founder of the chocolate company Firetree. The farmers then split the cocoa beans and begin the six-day fermentation process, then drying the beans. Some of these dry grains are shipped to Fairtree, UK, where the whole grain is roasted.
This was the original way to prepare chocolate, but Oder says it changed in the first half of the 20th century.
He explains that chocolate companies are now dependent on two crops – the main crop, which is harvested from November to January, and the subsidiary crop, which is harvested from January to June.
Sub-crops are smaller and slightly lower quality [مقارنة بالمحاصيل الرئيسية]It wasn’t sold at first. Then companies started buying them at discount prices, and farmers realized that they were selling high-quality grain at lower prices, so they started mixing the sub-crop with the main crop.”
“This meant that chocolate companies were getting kernels of different sizes, which required different roasting times. So they decided to break the shells so they could toast only the soft kernels inside.
Regardless of whether this story is true or just gossip, the fact remains that small chocolate manufacturers may have come up with something important. Roasting whole chocolate beans, not just the small kernels surrounded by the shell, usually requires a lower temperature for a longer time.
And we know that if we cook vegetables for longer than they should, it destroys many of their nutritional benefits. But it is not yet certain whether the same is true of dark chocolate and the fruit it comes from – the cocoa bean – and more research is needed in this regard.
However, although flavanols are found in many different foods and not just chocolate, studies show that dark chocolate can be part of a healthy diet.
“It’s okay to eat a high-cocoa chocolate a few times a week as long as you avoid overeating,” says Manson. [الأطعمة ذات] It’s high in calories, but it shouldn’t be seen as a healthy food that you’re trying to eat more of.”
“Try to increase the amount of flavanols in your diet, by eating tea, cranberries, grapes and other fruits, as well as a small percentage of chocolate with a high cocoa content.”
#dark #chocolate #good #health #BBC #News #Arabic