According to recent studies, raw chocolate can help prevent heart disease and cancer. In their article Cocoa nutrient for ‘lethal ills’, Michelle Roberts points out that epicatechin, a flavonoid in chocolate, seems to lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. This nutrient is believed to relax blood vessels and improve blood flow, making it heart healthy. It also has antioxidant properties which may help prevent cancers.
Chocolate is a rich source of flavonoids, but roasting and alkalizing lowers these excellent nutrients. In 2010 a study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that compared flavonoids in raw versus roasted chocolate beans. When beans were roasted under controlled conditions, there was a noticeable loss of epicatechin when bean temperatures went above 158 °F.
Flavanols like epicatechin tend to taste bitter and are often removed from commercial chocolates to create a milder flavor. Raw chocolate keeps the flavonoids that are lost when cocoa is cooked or alkalized.
An interesting study done by researchers from Harvard Medical School looked at the effects of chocolate on Panama’s Kuna Indians. They found that the Indians living on the islands drink chocolate as a staple part of their daily diet and have lower rates of heart disease and cancer. The people living on the mainland in Panama do not drink nearly as much chocolate and have higher rates of these diseases.
Southern Botanicals makes raw chocolate treats for local customers in the Clearwater Florida area. The raw cacao nibs ensure that vital enzymes are preserved and the full benefits are available. Combine this with other organic raw ingredients like coconut oil, known to benefit heart health, and it’s a dessert that is satisfying to more then just the sweet tooth.
Michelle Roberts, Cocoa nutrient for ‘lethal ills’ (BBC NEWS: 2007/03/11)
Mark J. Payne, W. Jeffrey Hurst, Kenneth B. Miller, Craig Rank, and David A. Stuart, Impact of Fermentation, Drying, Roasting, and Dutch Processing on Epicatechin and Catechin Content of Cacao Beans and Cocoa Ingredients (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2010 58 (19), 10518-10527)
Bayard V, Chamorro F, Motta J, Hollenberg NK. Does Flavanol Intake Influence Mortality from Nitric Oxide-Dependent Processes? Ischemic Heart Disease, Stroke, Diabetes Mellitus, and Cancer in Panama.(Int J Med Sci 2007; 4(1):53-58.)