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Healthy

  Chocolate Avoidance  
 
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Some isolated compounds in cocoa do show certain health benefits. If people were to consume pure cocoa, then they might indeed be able to enjoy a few health benefits, however the majority of people eat processed chocolate with all the other less desirable ingredients (i.e. added sugar, corn syrup, milk fats / dairy cream, hydrogenated oils, etc...), and where the actual cocoa content may be less than 20%.

Placebo-controlled trials showed that some of the chemicals in chocolate (caffeine, phenylethylamine, or theobromine) can indeed trigger migraine headaches by altering cerebral blood flow and releasing norepinephrine in some of those prone to suffer from migraines. Of all the foods isolated that triggered the most attacks, chocolate was an offender about 30% of the time.

From a nutritional perspective - chocolate is no less a junk food than ice cream or donuts, and it is equally unhealthy and fattening when larger amounts are consumed on a regular basis. Premium grade dark chocolate contains only cocoa butter, a fat that naturally occurs in cocoa beans and is made up of stearic acid (34%), oleic acid (34%), palmitic acid (25%), and the rest of other fatty acids, whereby the combined effect of all the fats found in cocoa butter is fairly neutral in regards to an individual's lipid profile. However, when milk chocolate or lower grade chocolate is consumed, part of the total fat content of chocolate comes from milk fat or various other types of fat, which do adversely affect cholesterol levels.

Dark chocolate contains a potent antioxidant, but the milk in milk chocolate interferes with the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate.
 

 
 

Chocolate Avoidance can help with the following:
 
 
Autoimmune  Multiple Sclerosis / Risk
 Epidemiology studies have documented a correlation between high cocoa consumption and high MS incidence. When cocoa is introduced to an area, MS incidence rises sharply. Cases are reported in which chocolate ingestion by MS patients was followed by exacerbations [Maas AG, Hogenhuis LAH. Multiple sclerosis and possible relationship to cocoa: A hypothesis. Ann Allergy 59: pp.76- 9, 1987]

Here is the abstract of this article: "The hypothesis presented in this paper suggests that MS may be caused by an allergic or other adverse reaction to certain foods, mostly cocoa products, cola, and coffee. Many MS patients have one or more manifestations of other well known reactions to those foods, such as migraine, urticaria, or gastrointestinal disturbances."
 
 


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GLOSSARY

Antioxidant:  A chemical compound that slows or prevents oxygen from reacting with other compounds. Some antioxidants have been shown to have cancer-protecting potential because they neutralize free radicals. Examples include vitamins C and E, alpha lipoic acid, beta carotene, the minerals selenium, zinc, and germanium, superoxide dismutase (SOD), coenzyme Q10, catalase, and some amino acids, like cystiene. Other nutrient sources include grape seed extract, curcumin, gingko, green tea, olive leaf, policosanol and pycnogenol.

Cholesterol:  A waxy, fat-like substance manufactured in the liver and found in all tissues, it facilitates the transport and absorption of fatty acids. In foods, only animal products contain cholesterol. An excess of cholesterol in the bloodstream can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.

Fatty Acids:  Chemical chains of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms that are part of a fat (lipid) and are the major component of triglycerides. Depending on the number and arrangement of these atoms, fatty acids are classified as either saturated, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated. They are nutritional substances found in nature which include cholesterol, prostaglandins, and stearic, palmitic, linoleic, linolenic, eicosapentanoic (EPA), and decohexanoic acids. Important nutritional lipids include lecithin, choline, gamma-linoleic acid, and inositol.

Hydrogenated Fat:  Usually containing trans-fatty acids (or simply "trans" fats), hydrogenated fats show up mostly in margarine, shortening and many prepared and processed foods such as cookies, crackers, cakes, potato chips and other deep-fried foods. The best way to spot hydrogenated fats is to read the ingredient lists on foods and identify those listing hydrogenated or "partially" hydrogenated fats.

Lipid:  Fat-soluble substances derived from animal or vegetable cells by nonpolar solvents (e.g. ether); the term can include the following types of materials: fatty acids, glycerides, phospholipids, alcohols and waxes.

Migraine:  Not just a headache, but a disorder affecting the whole body, characterized by clearly defined attacks lasting from about 4 to 72 hours, separated by headache-free periods; progresses through five distinct phases. Prodrome: experienced by about 50% of migraineurs and starting up to 24 hours before the headache - changes in mood, sensory perception, food craving, excessive yawning, or speech or memory problems. Aura: experienced by about 15% and starting within an hour before the headache - disruption of vision (flashing lights, shimmering zigzag lines, blind spot) or sensation (numbness or 'pins and needles' around the lips or hand), or difficulty speaking. Headache: usually pulsating and occurring on one side of the head, it may occur on both sides of the head and alternate from side to side. Muscles in the neck and scalp may be tender; there may be nausea and the desire not to eat, move, see or hear. Resolution: the headache disappears and the body returns to normal. Resolution may occur over several hours during sleep or rest; an intense emotional experience or vomiting may also end the headache. Postdrome: After the headache stops, the sufferer feels drained, fatigued and tired. Muscles ache, emotions are volatile and thinking is slow.

Noradrenaline:  (Norepinephrine): A catecholamine hormone secreted from the adrenal medulla and post-ganglionic adrenergic fibers in response to hypotension or emotional stress.