Cocoa and Cardiovascular benefits

So Jerrie gave me a flyer for a seminar entitled The Pharmacy in Your Kitchen. Since I cannot go, I have been following up on some of the ideas that it presents. One is how COCOA is involved in decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Before you get all excited – cocoa is NOT the same as chocolate. Chocolate is derived from cocoa, but has lots of added sugar and milk. We’re talking about dark high % chocolate, aka, bittersweet, or bitter. Actually it is the chemicals in cocoa, known as polyphenols, catechins (see the green tea nugget) and flavonol families that are the important actors here. The mechanism is still a bit murky, but they decrease inflammation (betcha didn’t see that one coming) of the blood vessel internal surface and reducing free radicals. If you are in a scientific frame of mind, this is areally good article from the medical journal Circulation.

To use Cocoa in your meal preparations, buy a good brand of unsweetened organic Cocoa, and put scoopfuls in smoothies with fruit or stevia, or you can make healthy truffle balls (recipe here). Or get really dark chocolate  (70%+… I prefer 85%), avoid the sugar and go for the unadulterated cocoa hit. The other benefit of acclimatizing to bitter versions of chocolate is that you don’t have to share as much. By the way, did I mention my birthday is May 16th?