Centuries of seeking chocolate’s medicinal benefits : The Lancet

Research into the health effects of cocoa—some of which is supported by chocolate manufacturers—has yielded much food for thought. Studies have been done, for example, on the effect of plant-derived, saturated stearic acid fats on cholesterol concentrations; whether consumption of chocolate has an effect on the release of phenethylamine, anandamide, or serotonin; and the properties of high-quality dark chocolate, which has high concentration of the stimulant theobromine and is also rich in flavanols. Indeed, some small studies have shown increased concentrations of a particular flavonoid, epicatechin, after chocolate consumption—a substance that promotes antioxidant activity which, in turn, decreases the activity of low-density lipoproteins. Such findings are welcomed by chocolate manufacturers, the medical community, the media, and consumers alike. Controversy remains over the extent to which, despite caloric concerns, chocolate’s beneficial ingredients effectively delay atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis, inhibit blood platelet activity, stimulate blood flow, and reduce blood pressure. Still, investigators strive to ascertain whether this one-time snack may also be one of nature’s greatest restorative and curative medicinal agents.

This “food of the gods” that many cultures ennobled as a curative drug, a culinary delight, and even a source of currency for commodity trading has retained its appeal over the centuries. At least on one level, our continued craving to uncover chocolate’s medicinal benefits represents good taste in therapeutic choice.

Worth looking at the whole article at Centuries of seeking chocolate’s medicinal benefits : The Lancet.

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