Cocoa contains more phenolic antioxidants than most foods. Flavonoids, including catechin, epicatechin, and procyanidins, dominate in antioxidant activity.
Cardiovascular effects are mediated via the cocoa’s polyphenols anti-inflammatory properties. The antioxidant effects of cocoa may have a direct influence on insulin resistance, thus reducing the risk of diabetes.
While cocoa is said to stimulate changes in some of our pathways, we must be mindful that cocoa is frequently eaten as energy-dense chocolate. Therefore there are potential detrimental effects of overindulgence, such as gaining weight.
Overall, research to date suggests that the benefits of moderate cocoa or dark chocolate consumption likely outweigh the risks.
A recent meta-analysis looked at several different health benefits associated with chocolate consumption. They looked at 240 studies and found that the best available evidence suggests that regular chocolate consumption is associated with a reduced risk of
• Cardiovascular disease (CVD)
• Acute myocardial infarction
• Type 2 diabetes
Evidence was most substantial for health benefits from chocolate consumption when dark chocolate was consumed at least 2 times weekly.
Reference: Veronese N, Demurtas J, Celotto S, Caruso MG, Maggi S, Bolzetta F, Firth J, Smith L, Schofield P, Koyanagi A, Yang L, Solmi M, Stubbs B. Is chocolate consumption associated with health outcomes? An umbrella review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Clin Nutr. 2019 Jun;38(3):1101-1108.
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