Chocolates – Are they good for health?

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Dears all,

Whenever our
kids ask for chocolates, the first thing we do is to strongly deny them saying
that their teeth would get spoilt, they would become overweight, ...etc.

Have we ever
wondered why we are so prejudiced to this extremely yummy food, 'chocolate'. More so, when having chocolates can
bring a radical change in our moods especially when we are depressed, much the
same way that coffee does.

Most of us
may not know that dark chocolates
contain more antioxidants (for introductions
on antioxidants please visit(
http://www.pharmainfo.net/mridula) than red
wine or for that matter, tea. For getting an insight into how antioxidants act
on free radicals, please visit (
http://www.pharmainfo.net/shruti-priya).

Another good
news our researchers have given is that
chocolates specially the dark ones are excellent for our hearts too - t
he antioxidants
that cocoa, the precursor of chocolates contain are
Polyphenols1 and flavonoids1 and these two
antioxidants protect our heart and cardiovascular system from damage from the
free radicals.

The benefits
of the delicious chocolates do not stop here.
It has been found that t
hey also prevents
blood platelets from clotting, thereby minimizing the risk of heart attack and
stroke significantly. Chocolate's antioxidants are superior in their health
benefit as compared to aspirin in that they improve arterial health and lower
blood pressure while aspirin does not.2

The
photograph is the courtesy of http://www.stresstips.com/why-people-who-eat-chocolate-live-longer/
- accessed on 19/2/2011


Now
that we have come to know the benefits of chocolates, let us discuss the
mechanism by which polyphenols and flavanoids act on free radicals.


Mechanism by which flavanols3 belonging
to the family of polyphenols (an ingredient in dark chocolate acts on free
radicals

Many compounds in this family can act as antioxidants based on their molecular structure. Research indicates that the flavanols found in cocoa may stimulate the production of nitric oxide in the body.

It has been observed that this increase
in nitric oxide may be responsible for the improvements in blood vessel health
and blood flow.

The
above modified schematic diagram incorporates the information available at
http://books.google.co.in/books?id=_MiGYXsEUWcC&pg=PT111&lpg=PT111&dq=mechanism+of+flavonoid+in+chocolates+as+antioxidants&source=bl&ots=VU7SZhKnNe&sig=yDuUjBox2clXoilfYkKZgBTI_U&hl=en&ei=RYJfTZabDMPnrAfYrtGuAg&sa=X&oi=bookresult&ct=result&resnum=8&ved=0CFMQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=mechanism%20of%20flavonoid%20in%20chocolates%20as%20antioxidants&f=false accessed on 19/2/2011

Mechanism by which flavonoids, another active
constituent of chocolate act on free radicals2.

Flavonoids
as antioxidants can prevent injury
caused by free radicals in various ways. One way is the direct scavenging of
free radicals. Flavonoids are oxidized by radicals, resulting in a more stable,
less-reactive radical, according to the following reaction

Where FOH is
flavonoid and R' is free radical and FO' is less reactive free radical.

In other
words, flavonoids stabilize the ROS by reacting with the reactive compound of
the radical. Because of the high reactivity of the hydroxyl group of the
flavonoids, radicals are made inactive2.

Now, when we
have discussed how the antioxidants present in chocolates act on the free
radicals, why not have an insight on what are the fatty acids present in the
chocolates and their effect on our cholesterol.

Oleic
acid
4- Oleic Acid is a healthy monounsaturated fat having beneficial effect
to the human heart.

Stearic acid4- Stearic
Acid is a saturated fat research shows that it has a neutral effect on
cholesterol.

Palmitic acid4- Palmitic
Acid is also a saturated fat, one which raises cholesterol and heart disease
risk.

The above discuss virtually means that only 1/3 of the fat
in dark chocolate is bad for us.

Now that we know that chocolates are good for us, we must also remember that -

1.

We would better avoid having cavities after a
helping of chocolates by rinsing our mouth properly.

2.

Chocolates in excess are quite harmful to our
health as they can give unrequired calories to the body thereby negating the
benefit they give to our hearts. So why
not prudently replace calories making sweets in our diet with chocolates
instead of replacing them with our other beneficial dietary items?

I have split my first blog into two parts so that I
can discuss this interesting topic in detail.
I would be bringing out the antioxidant properties of some vitamins and
minerals in my next blog.

This blog does not contain any plagiarized
material.

With regards,

Seema Meena,

Pharma Wings


References

  1. http://www.articlesbase.com/chocolate-articles/antioxidant-properties-in-chocolate-chocolatecovered-heart-health-1804309.html accessed on 19/2/2011

2.

http://www.lurj.org/article.php/vol3n2/flavonoids.xml accessed on 19/2/2011

  1. http://www.hersheys.com/nutritionprofessionals/chocolate/FAQs_copy1.aspx accessed on 19/2/2011
  2. http://longevity.about.com/od/lifelongnutrition/p/chocolate.htm
    -
    accessed on 20/2/2011


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About the Author

Seema Meena's picture
Author: Seema Meena

Comments

Sanket Shah's picture

thank you mam...... it was really a nice blog.. choclates are good especially dark choclate....... anything in excess is harmful is also applicable to choclates... Regards Sanket Shah
Sandhya Sravya malla's picture

VERY INTERESTING MAM....

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