It’s nice to think that cocoa is a smart dietary choice, but new research indicates that this is more than just wishful thinking. According to recent studies, cocoa can help older adults control health problems involving obesity-related inflammation, such as diabetes.
In a study done by Penn State researchers, professors fed an assembly of mice a high-fat diet. Half of the mice were fed the human equivalent of ten tablespoons of cocoa powder (about four or five cups of hot cocoa), while the
According to Joshua Lambert, associate professor of food science, the degree of the effect was quite astonishing. “There wasn’t as big of an effect on the body weight as we expected, but I was surprised at the dramatic reduction of inflammation and fatty liver disease,” Lambert said in the Penn State press release.
The cocoa powder even decreased the levels of liver triglycerides in the mice by nearly thirty-three percent. Triglycerides are fats in the blood that provide energy to the body. High triglyceride levels point towards a greater chance of heart disease, fatty liver disease, inflammation and diabetes. Along with lower triglyceride levels, researchers noticed a minor but noteworthy decline in the rate of weight gain.
Though researchers aren’t exactly sure why the cocoa powder had such a positive impact on obesity-related inflammation in mice, they do know that it worked in their favor. Lambert plans to continue his exploration of cocoa powder to uncover its role in treating inflammation.
Extracted from cacao beans, cocoa is a mixture of many different substances. When in powder form, the mixture contains calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, sodium and zinc. The product is low-calorie, low-fat and high in fiber. There are two types of cocoa powder: natural and Dutch-process. Natural cocoa powder is made from cacao beans that have been roasted and then ground into a fine powder. Dutch-process cocoa powder is made from cacao beans that have been washed with potassium solution. Cocoa powder is commonly used for baking, and it’s a popular drink when mixed with warm milk and sugar.
If you suffer from inflammation-related diseases, mixing together a hot cup of cocoa may just help to improve your health. Use it when baking a cake or brownies, or mix it into chocolate ice cream. Cocoa powder can also be used to make chocolate syrup by adding milk, butter and sugar. However you take it, you’ll be reaping the health benefits of cocoa powder!
Research & Community Education