Question about chocolate (cacao, cocoa)

Chocolate is said to be very beneficial for the human organism, especially if not messed up by being mixed with milk and sugar. You know, there’s a dark chocolate rage happening in health food circles. But which part is supposed to be the beneficial part… the defatted pure cocoa powder or the cocoa fat itself?

IIRC cocoa butter is almost entirely fat. so it wouldn’t have much health benefit than anything with similar fats.

AFAIK, the major health benefits are attributed to the effects of theobromine, which would be contained mainly in the cocoa powder.

Chocolate also contains resveratrol, which is one of those fad health substances. How much, if any, benefit you from consuming it is still an open question, AIUI.

Chief effects that are touted as beneficial include its ability to lower blood pressure, cause diuresis, and also to dilate constricted bronchioles. However there are other meds which do these things better, faster, and more safely.

Its aphrodisiacal properties are completely exaggerated, IMHO.

It may also be associated with an increased risk for prostate cancer, and like caffeine, can cause insomnia, anxiety, jitteriness, and withdrawal headaches.

Yeah, give me some of that! :confused:

But it also tastes really good, and that counts for something, too.

It might even have health benefits just from the flavor, if eating chocolate helps you to decrease stress.

Yes, but can you say in which part this resveratrol lies?

Why prefer meds to a food? All meds interfere artificially with some bodily function in order to treat a symptom.

As opposed to foods interfering artificially with some bodily function, instead? Drugs don’t stop being drugs just because they’re in food, nor because they’re “natural” (whatever that means).

I’ve never been a big fan of caffeine and cannot tolerate the flavor of coffee, so a decade or so ago a switched over to cocoa. I drink a cup every morning. It helps wake me up without making me as jittery as a Coke would. I eat an apple with it and that does me for breakfast until lunchtime.

I use straight baking cocoa with just enough no-calorie sweetener to make it drinkable. The prepackaged mixes have too much sugar and are too expensive. I didn’t even realize it was a fad; it’s no more medication than a cup of coffee is.

Chocolate is extremely beneficial when recovering from Dementor attacks.

Also heartbreaks, the blues, the blahs, the Mondays, the frumps, and the “I haven’t eaten enough chocolates”.

The best meds don’t treat symptoms, they treat the pathophysiology. When the med alters that, then symptoms may improve as a secondary effect.

If I have a patient with acute bronchospasm who’s struggling to take their next breath, I’ll give the bronchodilator like albuterol in aerosol form, which I know will work within 60 seconds to start dilating, vs. a theobromine laden foodstuff, which needs to be eaten, and which may or may not work over the next day and a half.

Ditto for a patient in congestive heart failure, with pulmonary edema, who needs quick diuresis; furosemide in IV or pill form will reliably work predictably in short order. A chocolate bar? Its effect will be far less certain.

I had to write food descriptions for training at a new serving gig. The chocolate cake with melted chocolate filling, hot fudge and chocolate ice cream? “Enough chocolate to overwhelm ANYONE’s dopamine receptors.” I stand by it, and consider it a good thing.

I misread the OP as orgasm instead of organism. Got very, very, very interested for a moment. Hey honey, I’m going to the store for cocoa. :wink:

WTH, I bought it anyhow. It’s worth trying. :smiley:


Also, maybe it’s just the dose, but I find chocolate and tea to be much gentler stimulants than coffee and cola. If I consume too much coffee or cola I have trouble concentrating and feel jittery. That’s never happened to me from tea or chocolate (although all 4 of those can give me insomnia.)

“Said” by whom?

And a host of flavanols which besides possibly being associated with very modest improvements in blood pressure may have some impact on decreasing age-related cognitive declines, and help reduce cancer risks.

The cocoa solids contain the flavanols and other putatively health enhancing substances, not the fats, and some forms of processing may decrease their levels quite substantially.

Certainly chocolate is not the only possible means to have a diet rich in flavanols and such … but in general the beneficial impact of real foods containing these mixtures of substances are found much more so when eating the real foods and not when taking supplements that contain some of the substances in isolation and not contained within the matrix of the real food.

When using a substance as a medication to address pathophysiology we are well served by being able to standardize and control the dosing with some precision, as QtM states. The beneficial impact of foods rich in a variety of substances that together within the delivery system of actual food seem to have health benefits are a bit different than that.

Is it concerning that much of the research was underwritten by Mars and other chocolate companies? Probably a bit less than the fact that most drug trials are funded by drug companies.

If someone uses media-hyped chocolate industry funded studies of the miracle health benefits of chocolate as an excuse to eat excessive calories via sugar and fat, then there is harm.

OTOH it seems that dosing your cocoa derived substances in small amounts of real chocolate habitually may have beneficial impacts with little risk of weight gain or other harms.

Tested that, have you? :dubious::smiley:

You haven’t? :confused: