Health benefits of cacao and chocolate

Cacao and chocolate have been used as medicinal remedies to treat asthma, weakness, and digestive disorders

Health benefits of cacao and chocolate
Different kinds of chocolate and cacao – Photo: File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
English 03/10/2019 19:22 Karla Orona Mexico City Actualizada 19:36
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In ancient times, cacao was highly valued, both as exchange coin among our ancestors, and once it arrived in Spain and was combined with sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon, it became a favorite among children and adults.

According to information of Mexico’s National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (Conabio) , “cacao contains a high nutritional content, it is a source of vitamins (B1 and folic acid) and minerals (potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium)” and has also been used as a medicinal remedy to treat asthma, weakness, and diarrhea.

Due to all these qualities, in Mexico, we celebrate the National Day of Cacao and Chocolate.
 

Some studies have revealed that cacao could help reduce blood pressure since it is rich in flavonoids, which are believed to enhance nitric oxide levels in the blood, which in turn can improve the function of the blood vessels, as explain in Cochrane.org.

Besides flavonoids, cacao and chocolate are a rich source of polyphenols, which have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects; in turn, the antioxidant effects have shown to have anti-aging properties.

According to the expert in nutrition Fernanda Alvarado, the bioactive compounds of dark chocolate work as a protection against the effects of ultraviolet radiation, a factor that causes premature aging.
 

Recently, a release by the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS), informed about the benefits of the moderate consumption of chocolate, for it is a food rich in nutrients and a good source of antioxidants and vegetable fat that help the nervous system.

They assert that the moderate consumption of this food could help keep cholesterol and triglycerides under control.

Likewise, several studies have found that polyphenols, such as those contained in cacao, can reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases by improving brain function and blood flow, as explained in Healthline.
 

They add that flavonoids in cacao can help in the production of neurons, brain function, and the blood supply to brain tissue.

It is worth mentioning that, although cacao and chocolate have many health benefits, their moderate consumption is suggested. Fernanda Alvarado explains that we should consume good quality chocolate with over 70% of cacao.

It is also advisable to avoid commercial chocolate for it can contain milk, cream, and/or added sugar.

Due to the importance of cacao in our country, it was recently announced that September 2 is the National Day of Cacao and Chocolate with the objective to promote this historical food from Mexico.

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