Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011
2010 has come to an end and this is the beginning of a promising new year—2011. It is an appropriate time to look back at some of the events that have taken center stage in our lives over the last year. Don’t worry… I am not going to carry on about health care, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; the START Treaty or even the drubbing the Democrats took during the November election. About the only subject on a political note I have is over my concerns of tragic unrest in Ivory Coast which has the vast potential to disrupt the lives of many innocent people and further destabilize cocoa prices which are already at an all-time high.
What I do want to address are new learnings about chocolate this past year. The cacao genome map is being studied and we are discovering so much more about this wonderful, ancient and magical plant, including all of the health benefits that can be derived from eating a moderate amount of dark chocolate each day.
We read about a new cocoa-based drug that has the potential to treat persistent coughs. The drug is a joint development by United Kingdom-based SEEK, and United States-based Pernix. This new drug contains theobromine, an ingredient naturally present in cocoa and chocolate. The drug is entering the final stages of human clinical trials and could be on market within a little more than two years. This will be the first effective non-opioid treatment for persistent or chronic cough in two decades. Human trial research in South Korea has shown that theobromine has none of the side effects associated with standard drug treatments for persistent cough.
Persistent cough is a very common condition, afflicting over 800 million people worldwide, with an estimated 12% of the general population having the symptoms. Failure to treat a cough can lead to enormous consequences in terms of loss of one’s heath and well-being. Theobromine, a key compound in chocolate, has been shown to inhibit the inappropriate firing of the vagus nerve, which is a key cause of a persistent cough.
I, for one, have had a persistent, nagging cough since a bout with pneumonia several years ago and take at least one Choclatique Q-91 square—our functional chocolate—to dampen it down. As good as Q-91 is, I am still looking forward to concentrated chocolate flavored cough drops or syrups.
During the year we continued to hear about the expanded benefits of chocolate which has been used a vasodilator, or blood vessel widener, a diuretic, a heart stimulant, a cavity inhibitor and even a way to improve bad breath.
We also learned this year that Flavanol compounds derived from cocoa boosts the beneficial bacteria in the intestine. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, demonstrates the effect of cocoa flavanols on select stomach bacteria in humans and, “suggests the potential prebiotic benefits associated with the dietary inclusion of flavanol-rich foods have a beneficial effect through their selective metabolism in the intestinal tract.”
Scientists from the Nestlé Research Center reported earlier this year that a that daily consumption of just 40 grams of dark chocolate like Choclatique’s Q-91 significantly increases a person’s metabolism to help control weight maintenance. Dr. Jeremy Spencer from the University of Reading said that implications of the study are “that subtle changes in dietary habits, such as eating dark chocolate, can benefit long term health.”
Manufacturers’ interest in the active compounds in cocoa started about 20 years ago when scientists sought to understand the flavor components of chocolate. The bitter and astringent compounds were isolated, and further study and clinical work showed the health benefits of the monomers and the tannins, particularly epicatechin.
Scientists active in the area are keen to stress that chocolate and cocoa are very different in terms and not interchangeable. Cocoa is the non-fat component of cocoa liquor (finely ground cocoa beans) which is used in chocolate making or as Cocoa liquor contains approximately 55 per cent cocoa butter and together this comprises cocoa solids, often referred to on chocolate packaging. cocoa powder (usually about 12 percent fat) for cooking and drinks. Chocolate refers to the combination of cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar, etc. in a solid food product.
All of us at Choclatique thank you—our loyal readers and valued customers—for a great 2010 and we wish you all a healthful and prosperous 2011 filled with sweet dreams and chocolate wishes.