Findings from two studies, presented at the experimental biology 2018 annual meeting in San Diego, show that consumption of dark chocolate that has a high concentration of cacao (minimally 70% cacao, 30% organic cane sugar) has positive effects on stress levels, inflammation, mood, memory and immunity, as it is a major source of flavonoids. This is the first time the effect has been studied on human subjects to determine how it can support cognitive, endocrine and cardio-vascular health and improve other brain functions. The data represents the first human trials examining the impact of consumption of dark chocolate.
This is the first time that studies have looked at the impact of large amounts of cocoa in doses as small as a regular-sized chocolate bar in humans, over short or long periods of time, and are encouraged by the findings. These studies show that the higher the concentration of cacao, the more positive the impact on cognition, memory, mood, immunity and other beneficial effects. The flavonoids found in cacao are extremely potent anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, with known mechanisms beneficial for brain and cardio-vascular health.
This study assessed the electro-encephalography (EEG) response to consuming 48gm (grams) of dark chocolate (70% cacao) after 30 and 120 minutes, on modulating brain frequencies. The findings show that this super food of 70% cacao enhances neuro-plasticity for behavioural and brain health benefits. The research requires further investigation, specifically to determine the significance of these effects for immune cells and the brain in larger study populations.
Weight Loss? Vegetarian Diet Is as Good as Mediterranean Diet
According to the research published in Circulation, vegetarian diet (VD) is said to be just as effective for weight loss as the famous Mediterranean diet (MD). The study discovered this by randomly assigning overweight omnivores with a low-to-moderate cardio-vascular risk profile a low-calorie VD compared with a low-calorie MD, each lasting three months.
Clinically, 107 healthy participants (18-75 years of age) with a low-to-moderate cardio-vascular risk profile were recruited and the eligibility criteria included being overweight along with the simultaneous presence of the following criteria: total cholesterol levels >190 mg/dL, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels >115 mg/dL, triglyceride levels >150 mg/dL, and glucose levels >110 but <126 mg/dL. The aim was to compare, in a population of omnivorous individuals living in a low-risk (for cardio-vascular disease) European country, the effects of a three-month period of being on a low-calorie VD, compared with being on a low-calorie MD on several markers of cardio-vascular disease risk. The participants spent half of that time consuming an MD before switching to a VD. While the former advocates lean proteins, nuts and whole grains, the latter excludes meat and fish but permits dairy and eggs.
Following final examinations, the research concluded that both diets were as effective in reducing body weight, fat mass and body mass index, with the average participant losing 1.88kg on VD and another 1.77kg on MD. They also examined the effect both diets had on participants’ cardio-vascular health and found that both were equally effective in different ways. Both, VD and MD, were effective in reducing body weight, body mass index, and fat mass, with no significant differences between them. However, VD was more effective in reducing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels known as ‘bad’ cholesterol for its propensity to build-up in the arteries and potentially causes a stroke or a heart attack, whereas MD led to a greater reduction in triglyceride levels or fatty acids, which can be similarly detrimental to heart health when a build-up occurs.