Cocoa is one of the richest sources of antioxidants including procyanidins and flavanoids, which have been found to contain antiaging properties. Cocoa’s high level of flavonoids, specifically epicatechin, have been found to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health and may reduce blood pressure according to an analysis of previously published research in the April 9, 2007 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.
Hollenberg and colleagues of Harvard Medical School studied the effects of cocoa and flavanols on Panama’s Kuna people, who are heavy consumers of cocoa. The researchers found that the Kuna people living on the islands had significantly lower rates of heart disease and cancer compared to those on the mainland who do not drink cocoa as on the islands. It is believed that the improved blood flow after consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa may help to achieve health benefits in the heart and other organs. In particular, the benefits may extend to the brain and have important implications for learning and memory.
A 15-year study of elderly men published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2006 found a 50 percent reduction in cardiovascular mortality and a 47 percent reduction in all-cause mortality for the men regularly consuming the most cocoa, compared to those consuming the least cocoa from all sources.
The consumer should note however, that flavonoids degrade during cooking and alkalizing processes and therefore raw cocoa is the most desirable.
So, why not enjoy one of the most healthy and tasty foods on the planet?