In addition to the existence of a Chocolate Diet, a new study will now examine whether putting the nutrients present in dark chocolate into a pill will result in better health benefits. The study will include 18,000 men and women and the idea is to evaluate the health benefit of an ingredient in chocolate without the fat and sugar, according to Dr. JoAnn Manson, who is the chief of Preventive Medicine at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
The key component of interest in the study is the flavanol present in the cocoa bean which has already shown to positively impact arterial health, insulin, blood pressure and cholesterol. In a later part the study will also evaluate the role of multivitamins in cancer prevention for a wider target population. The study will be sponsored by Mars Inc. the makers of Snickers and M&M candy and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Mars Inc. already has a patented method to extract cocoa flavanols and put them into capsule form but these contain less active forms of the nutrient than what the planned new study will use.
The participants for the study will come from other existing studies, a far more quick and cost-effective method than recruiting newcomers, according to Dr. Manson. Over a four year period the participants will be given either two dummy capsules or two capsules containing cocoa flavanols every day. The participants in the second part of the study will get dummy capsules or multivitamin capsules. All the capsules are tasteless and will be coated so neither the participants nor the study leaders will be able to differentiate the real from the dummy.
While the concepts of chocolate pills and a Chocolate Diet are fairly recent, the health benefits of cocoa have been studied and established for a while now. The cocoa in chocolate contains flavanoids which are antioxidants that are beneficial in the prevention of strokes and heart attacks and are also known to reduce blood pressure. Studies have even revealed that flavanols can improve mental health as people grow older. Dark chocolate with the greatest concentration of cocoa has the best therapeutic value and should be limited to about 20g every three days for the best medicinal effect.
The flavonoids in cocoa and chocolate are present in the non-fat portions of the bean and include catechins, procyandins and epicatechins. In addition to providing a defense against life threatening ailments, cocoa beans have various other medicinal benefits too. Cocoa can stimulate an increase in the level of serotoinine in the brain which can help those suffering from depression and even PMS! Cocoa beans also contain many essential minerals and vitamins such as calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium, zinc and copper and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, E and pantothenic acid.
If chocolate has all these amazing abilities for better health and is now even being considered in a pill form, the Chocolate Diet will come as no surprise. The diet was the result of studies that showed that people who ate chocolate frequently had a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who did not. Despite all the fat in chocolate, the antioxidants and other chemicals cause an increase in the metabolic rate. Again it is dark chocolate that gets all the credit for the success of the Chocolate Diet. Also it is the regulated frequency and not an increased quantity of intake that enables the best results. A careful look at all the various versions of this diet that now exist will reveal that the common factor in all of them is a regulated diet consisting of very healthy food choices, strict portion control and regular exercise with a certain kind of chocolate added in prescribed amounts. Chocolate pills and diets are definitely a great way to better health and fitness
By Grace Stephen
The Seattle Times