Chocolate has antioxidants

Chocolate has antioxidants

New research published in the Medical Journal “Lancet”, shows that eating chocolate could prevent cancer and heart disease and contrary to popular belief also fights tooth decay.

Research conducted by scientist from Holland’s National Institute of Public Health and Environment shows that chocolates contain antioxidants called Catechins and Phenols. These antioxidants could prevent heart diseases and cancer.

Until now tea was thought to contain the largest amount of these antioxidants but this new research indicates that dark chocolate has four times as much as compared to tea. The researchers found that dark chocolate had 53.5 mg of catechins per 100 gm, milk chocolate contains 15.9 mg per 100 gm, and the black tea contains 13.9 mg per 100 ml.

Chocolate like the red wine – which is said to protect against heart disease, also contains phenols. These reduce the presence of free radicals that damage cells and DNA. Phenols are said to prevent fat like substances in the blood stream from oxidizing and clogging the arteries.

Atherosclerosis, or the formation of plaque in the arteries, is caused by oxidation of LDL (low density lipoproteins ) that ‘s one of the cholesterol particles. At first this leads to subtle damage, and then eventually to the formation of advanced plaque. The build up of plaque can lead to clogging of the arteries, a major cause of heart attack.

By acting as a deoxidizing agent, the phenols prevent clogging of arteries, thus averting heart attacks. The researchers also believe that the cacao plant, from which chocolate and cocoa is derived, boosts the immune system and also restricts the formation of the type of cholesterol which damages heart.

Researchers believe that most of the bad effects of eating chocolate are either overstated or entirely false. For example, chocolate also has not been proven to cause cavities or tooth decay. Rather, it helps thwart mouth bacteria and stop dental decay.

Tooth cavities start when streptococcus mutans bacteria produce a sticky molecule called glucan. This helps the bacteria anchor themselves to teeth and form plaque. These and other bacteria in plaque convert sugar to acids, which eat away the tooth’s surface and lead to cavities.

Research shows that the cocoa butter in the chocolate coats the teeth and may help protect them by preventing plaque from forming. The sugar in the chocolate does contribute to cavities, but no more than the sugar in any other food. Scientists believe that antibacterial agents in cocoa beans offset its high sugar levels. Cocoa bean husk, the outer part of the bean, which usually goes waste in chocolate production in a potent source of these agents. Research has also shown that parts of cocoa bean, the main ingredient of chocolate, thwart mouth bacteria and stop dental decay.

Also, eating chocolate neither causes nor aggravate acne, as is the general belief. In fact recent research has shown that eating chocolate or not eating it does not produce any significant changes in the acne conditions in human beings.

However, as in the case of any other food, eating too much of chocolate may cause health problems. The cocoa butter in chocolate does contain saturated fat, which can increase blood cholesterol levels, and high cholesterol may contribute to heart disease.

Chocolate is high in calories and eating too much therefore make you fat, increasing your risk of heart disease. Over eating of chocolate can also lead to obesity.

Free Radicals and Antioxidants