Subject: Chocolate is a potent antioxidant full of cancer preventing compounds
This morning's posting of a recipe for a raspberry chocolate nut torte has brewed up a few questions. Many people have grown so accustomed to the idea that anything that tastes good is bad for you that they reflexively assume that chocolate must be unhealthy. This can't be further from the truth. I'm going to paste in as article on Chang Lee's work at Cornell University on chocolate. According to their recent analysis chocolate has twice the antioxidants of red wine and three times as many as green tea.
I am copying this article from a website called cancerfacts.com. I would suggest anyone with cancer check out this site. It has interesting info but more important provides a free service to cancer patients that I think looks intriguing. It allows you to fill out a patient profile and then lays out what the current best treatment (conventional) for a person in your situation is. In effect it gives you an up to the minute updated second opinion about what the best science says your treatment should be.
Cocoa may be good for you too
Thursday, November 20, 2003
ITHACA , N.Y. – Nov. 20, 2003 – There is a new reason to enjoy hot cocoa on a cold winter's night in front of a cozy fire. Consider it a health drink.
Researchers, led by Dr. Chang Lee, chairman of the Department of Food Science and Technology at Cornell University , have found that cocoa is brimming with antioxidants that prevent cancer and other diseases.
Comparing the chemical anti-cancer activity in beverages known to contain antioxidants they found that cocoa has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine and up to three times those found in green tea. Their finding will be published Dec. 3 in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.
"If I had made a prediction before conducting the tests, I would have picked green tea as having the most antioxidant activity," Lee said in a prepared statement. "When we compared one serving of each beverage, the cocoa turned out to be the highest in antioxidant activity, and that was surprising to me."
Scientists have long known that cocoa contains antioxidants, but no one knew just how plentiful they were compared with those in red wine and green tea.
Lee and his colleagues used two chemical tests that measured how well the cocoa compounds scavenge for free radicals -- agents that cause cancer, heart disease and other diseases.
They found that cocoa leads the other drinks in containing compounds called phenolic phytochemicals, or flavonoids, indicating the presence of known antioxidants that can stave off cancer, heart disease and other ailments. They discovered 611 milligrams of the phenolic compound gallic acid equivalents (GAE) and 564 milligrams of the flavonoid epicatechin equivalents (ECE) in a single serving of cocoa.
By comparison, a glass of red wine, contained 340 milligrams of GAE and 163 milligrams of ECE. A cup of green tea, contained 165 milligrams of GAE and 47 milligrams of ECE.
Phenolic compounds protect plants against insects and pathogens, and they remain active even after food processing. "A decade ago food scientists did not know that phenolics had an important role in human health," says Lee.
Lee adds that whether or not eating chocolate may bestow the same kind of anti-oxidant protection is more problematic because of the fat content in a chocolate bar. Cocoa has about one-third of a gram of fat per one-cup serving, compared with eight grams of fat in a standard-size 40-gram chocolate bar.
"Although a bar of chocolate exhibits strong antioxidant activity, the health benefits are still controversial because of the saturated fats present," the researchers write.
Asked whether one should drink red wine, green tea or cocoa, Lee suggests enjoying all three in different parts of the day. "Personally, I would drink hot cocoa in the morning, green tea in the afternoon and a glass of red wine in the evening. That's a good combination," he says.
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