Cocoa and antioxidants
Cocoa beans contain natural chemicals known as flavanoids. These flavonoids are a type of antioxidant compound that promote general health and even have been linked to reducing the risk of several diseases. As Silvia B. Lotito states in her work from The Linus Pauling Institute Good news about chocolate:
“Cocoa powder and cocoa-derived products, especially dark chocolate, are good sources of flavonoids, mainly epicatechin and its oligomers, called procyanidins.”
But just how powerful are these antioxidants?
The power of antioxidants
Antioxidants are substances that help to protect our body by protecting our cells from damage by free radicals. These are molecules that can damage cells and tissues, so it's important that your body gets antioxidants on a daily basis to help protect the body. Theses free radicals can often be increased by stress or illness, so be sure to get antioxidants into your diet when you are ill. Fresh fruit and vegetables, along with cocoa, are all a great source of antioxidants, and the flavanols contained in these foods will help you to maintain a healthy heart and efficient circulation throughout your body.
A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry published in 2003 claims that antioxidants are especially concentrated in cocoa. In this study, researchers compared the antioxidant capacity of black tea, green tea, red wine and cocoa, concluding that cocoa has the highest antioxidant activity among the four products and the highest potential for health benefits.
Cardiovascular benefits of cocoa
Flavonoid antioxidants are also said to have noteworthy benefits for your cardiovascular system as cocoa antioxidants can stop plaque formation, improving circulation and lowering your risk of heart disease.
Cocoa is good for the brain
A daily dose of cocoa may help keep brain diseases such as Alzheimer's at bay according to recent research. Experts discovered that antioxidants in cocoa, called Lavado reduce damage to nerve pathways in the brain long before symptoms of the disease develop.
Professor Giulio Maria Pasinetti, who led researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, said it could be used cheaply and safely as a dietary supplement. He added:
“ We believe our results have broad implications for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.”
Enjoying the benefits of cocoa in your diet
You can enjoy these great benefits of cocoa in your diet without having to eat mountains of dark chocolate! Linwoods flaxseed, cocoa and berries mix are a great source of flavanols and a 30g serving will provide you with the same antioxidants as 25 portions of fruit and veg combined. Simply sprinkle the mix on any of the foods you eat for a nutritional boost. We have a range of recipes below that you can use to integrate our cocoa blend into your diet.
Cocoa recipes to enjoy this summer
- Gorgeous flaxseed, cocoa and berry granola – recipe here
- Pamper me pancakes – recipe here
- Moreish breakfast muffins – recipe here
- Summer berry chocolate cake – recipe here
- Summer berry fruit crumble and ice cream – recipe here
How do you enjoy cocoa?
Let us know how you enjoy cocoa and cocoa products as part of a balanced diet by commenting below. If you use Linwoods flaxseed, cocoa and berries in your diet, share your recipes on our recipes page and we will publish our favourites.
You can also share your favourite cocoa inspired recipes with us by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.