Posts Tagged ‘Theobromine’

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Chocolate

Thursday, June 21st, 2012
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

If you’re like most women, you’re totally smitten with chocolate. People have been obsessing over this comfort food for thousands of years (the Mayans considered cacao a cure-all and the Aztecs used it as money). And all that obsessing has yielded some pretty surprising studies–and findings. Here are five things you need to know about your favorite indulgence.

1. It Can Boost Your Workout
Skip the expensive sports drinks and protein shakes. Research shows chocolate milk is just as effective a recovery aid.

A study published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism compared the effects of a recovery drink and chocolate milk on endurance athletes’ ability to recover after a series of bike sprints followed by an endurance ride the next day. They found that chocolate milk was just as effective at relieving muscle soreness after the sprints, and preparing the athletes to perform in the endurance test the next day. Better yet, everyone preferred the taste of chocolate milk.

2. Your Period Doesn’t Make You Crave It
Half of American women experience chocolate cravings. Of those who do, about half crave it right around “that” time of the month.

And while it’s nice to have your menstrual cycle to blame when you find yourself noshing on half a package of chocolate chip cookies, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that menstrual hormones aren’t the culprit. They compared the cravings of pre- and post-menopausal women and didn’t find any change. They did, however, find a higher prevalence of cravings among women who suffer from PMS.

Why? Annmarie Kostyk, a chocolate expert who studied at the Professional School of Chocolate Arts, Ecole Chocolat, in Canada, says this has a lot to do with the psychology behind comfort foods. “Chocolate is sociologically considered a comfort food, and people crave comfort foods when they feel terrible,” she says.

3. It Won’t Wake You Up
It’s a common misconception that chocolate is packed with caffeine, says Kostyk. In reality, the amount of caffeine in chocolate is miniscule compared to what’s in your other daily pick-me-ups.

An ounce of dark chocolate contains about 20 milligrams of caffeine, while an ounce of milk chocolate contains about 5 milligrams–the same as an 8-ounce cup of decaf coffee. In comparison, a cup of coffee contains about 100 milligrams and a cup of tea contains about 50 milligrams of caffeine.

4. It Contains Flavonoids
Flavowhats? Flavonoids are a type of phytochemical, or plant chemical, that are found naturally in chocolate. Due to their unique chemical structures, flavonoids can exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cell-protective effects, says Giana Angelo, Ph.D., a research associate who specializes in micronutrient research at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Consuming foods rich in flavonoids has also been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

To reap the benefits, stick to dark chocolate. The average commercial dark chocolate contains about 60 percent cocao and has been found to contain 536 milligrams of flavonoids per 1.4-ounce serving. Research has shown that as few as 80 milligrams of flavonoids a day can lower blood pressure.

5. It’s Not All Bad for Your Teeth
How could a food that’s long been touted as a cavity-causer actually have teeth-protecting properties? It turns out that theobromine, an organic molecule that occurs naturally in cocoa, can help strengthen tooth enamel, according to research from Tulane University.

In fact, it takes 142 times less cocao extract to have about twice the protective benefits of fluoride, according to the American Dental Association. Unfortunately, theobromine isn’t too beneficial in chocolate bars, where the sugar and milk counteract the dental benefits. Enter Theodent, a fluoride-free mint toothpaste that packs a punch of theobromine.

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Welcoming in the Healthy New Year with Chocolate—2011

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
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.”

Q-91Scientists 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.

Choclatique CrewAll 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.

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