2 cups of cocoa a day might keep the Alzheimer’s away

Finally some news I can use.  A new study finds that people who drink two cups of cocoa a day have better blood flow to the brain, and better memory.

For a while now, there’s been some thought that flavanols in chocolate are what make the difference.  Though in this latest test, they gave people either high-flavanol or low-flavanol cocoa, and both groups had better blood flow to the brain after the experiment.

hersheys-chocolate-bar

This led the researchers to conclude that either it’s some other chemical than flavanol that matters, or it’s possible that only a small amount of flavanol is needed to get the benefit.  It’d be interesting to see if they could make a flavanol-free chocolate, or just flavanol supplements, and try each of those.

Still, it’s rather amazing results.

The LA Times has a bit more on it.

I decided to go the Mayo Clinic Web site to see if the real doctors think chocolate is a good idea.  And they say yes, it actually is.  In moderation.

Here’s Mayo’s prescription:

Choose dark chocolate with cocoa content of 65 percent or higher. Limit yourself to around 3 ounces (85 grams) a day, which is the amount some studies have shown to be helpful. Because this amount may provide up to 450 calories, you may want to cut calories in other areas or step up the exercise to compensate.

85 grams is not a small amount.  That’s two regular-sized Hershey’s bars (though Hershey’s is the wrong kind of chocolate – you need something higher in cocoa).  And if it gets too high in cocoa, it can get a bit too bitter.  I use a 60% or 65% bar of Ghirardelli’s for much of my baking, and it’s quite good, I suppose that would get your close to what the doctor ordered, but for the fat and sugar.

Still, I love chocolate, and it’s the rare day that I eat 85 grams worth (unless I make brownies or cake, then I’m a sow).  And, as they warn, be careful what you’re eating, what kind of chocolate food, so you don’t get fat, raise your cholesterol etc.  Then you’d have to eat even more chocolate to make things better :)


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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40 Responses to “2 cups of cocoa a day might keep the Alzheimer’s away”

  1. Nowie Mann says:

    I prefer drinking hot chocolate in the morning. It’s a great beverage to start a busy day.
    _________________________________________________________________________________

    fort collins

  2. mr_ed says:

    Correct. The only southern Aldi’s are in Australia, where they’ve turned retail upside down.

  3. BeccaM says:

    I live in central New Mexico. We have no ‘local’ Aldi stores.

  4. fletcher says:

    Must work. Farfel the dog is still hawking Nestlé’s Quik in the 21st Century while Charlie McCarthy pushed Chase & Sanborn coffee and you haven’t heard from him in years.

  5. mr_ed says:

    Your local Aldi store carries German chocolate at very low prices, as you’d expect from Aldi, owned by part of the same family that is Trader Joe’s. I find Aldi to be lowest priced store for almost everything. Mostly private label products, but many national brands in produce.

  6. docsterx says:

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear when I stated, “While some fats in it may raise HDL, others raise total cholesterol and LDL.” Some of the saturated fats in coconut milk may be beneficial while others may raise LDL and be atherogenic.

    Also, when the nutrition label on a product says 0 trans fat there may be trans fats still present. As long as the trans fat content is actually < 0.5 grams, the manufacturer can list it as trans fat free. So, realistically, from the coconut milk and coconut oil you could be getting slightly less than 1 gram of trans fat/day. It's recommended that, on a daily basis, trans fats be kept at less than 2 grams/day. With labeling the way it is, people can easily exceed 2 grams/day and think that they've not eaten ANY trans fats.

    Good to see that you're watching your fat intake.

  7. vyduxawanuxe says:

    мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт…­ ­ViewMore——————————————&#46qr&#46net/kAgk

    it actually is something that we’d accept as chocolate and not some
    concoction of cocoa powder and whey solids and beef tallow and whatever
    else the manufacturer decides can substitute for proper ingredients.
    Really it’s no different from expecting, when buying (say) ground black
    pepper, to expect the product to contain black pepper and not pencil
    shavings.

  8. The_Fixer says:

    While coconut milk is high in saturated fats, but not all saturated fat is created equal. Coconut products have the “good” kind – medium chain fatty acids – as opposed to the “bad” kind, long-chain fatty acids. The coconut milk I drink is free of trans fats.

    I have one mug of cocoa prepared as I noted above, and one tablespoon of coconut oil daily. I generally eat lean, don’t eat red meat daily (most weeks I don’t eat red meat), and keep an eye on fat generally.

    The reason why I use coconut products is that they seem to help with my hypothyroidism. That, watching my diet and getting ample exercise has not only me helped me lose 40 pounds, but has increased my energy level significantly.

    I think it’s important to make certain that one is not eating a fatty diet if you’re going to do as I have done. And if at all possible, consult a doctor if you’re going to make a significant change to your diet.

    That is, if you can afford one.

  9. grandpamike says:

    Yes, but, it will give you a stroke of cardiac arrest before you get Alzheimer’s.

  10. Ninong says:

    Two cups of cocoa a day??! Is that on top of the two to four cups of coffee I’m supposed to drink a day in order to lower my suicide risk by 50%? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/25/coffee-lower-suicide-risk-caffeine-benefits-harvard_n_3653637.html

    What about the two glass of red wine I’m supposed to drink daily? I forgot why, but who cares, sounds like a winner to me! And am I still supposed to eat two ounces of dark chocolate daily or does the cocoa replace that?

    If you dip your apple-a-day into chocolate and wash it down with two glasses of red wine you’ve got most of the bases covered, assuming you drank your two to four cups of coffee in the morning.

  11. Drew2u says:

    Well dang; guess it’s almond milk for me!

  12. docsterx says:

    Just FYI, coconut milk can be VERY high in saturated fats from its coconut oil content. The American Heart Assn., American Dietetic Assn,. and others recommend against using much coconut milk. While some fats in it may raise HDL, others raise total cholesterol and LDL. Additionally, some coconut milk products may contain trans fats, that should be avoided.

  13. BeccaM says:

    My rule of thumb is, whenever possible, buy small and/or buy local.

  14. Monoceros Forth says:

    I have to say: all kinds of fun have been made about European regulation of foodstuffs (at least as far back as “Yes, Minister” and their jokes about the “emulsified high-fat offal tube”) but there really is a very good point in all of it: it’s good to know that, when buying a product labelled “chocolate” (or “sausage” or anything else), it actually is something that we’d accept as chocolate and not some concoction of cocoa powder and whey solids and beef tallow and whatever else the manufacturer decides can substitute for proper ingredients. Really it’s no different from expecting, when buying (say) ground black pepper, to expect the product to contain black pepper and not pencil shavings.

  15. The_Fixer says:

    Hey, it’s Solid State! Surely it can’t be all bad!

    :)

  16. The_Fixer says:

    Thanks for the info.

    It’s so hard to shop these days, what with so many evil companies doing their worst. Guess I’ll have to find some other brand cocoa. I’m always suspicious of the big guns in any industry, food especially.

  17. BeccaM says:

    When I was in India, about half of the spirituality students at the ashram where I spent most of my time were German.

    They knew that bringing in lots of German and Swiss chocolate was for us Americans like smokes in prison. I have never tasted finer chocolate.

  18. Drew2u says:

    Well that was uncalled for.

  19. emjayay says:

    I think TJ’s has a one pound plus 72% with almonds, but not hazelnuts. Hazelnuts (filberts) and chocolate is a marriage made in heaven. Unfortunately because of a supplier shortage having to do with the crop or something TJ’s just ran out of bagged hazelnuts, both raw and toasted. I’m calling on governor Cuomo to declare an emergency and get FEMA involved.

  20. BeccaM says:

    If you want to have cocoa or chocolate, I recommend avoiding Hershey’s.

    Foreign students who claimed they toiled under abusive conditions at a Pennsylvania plant handling Hershey candies last year have won over $200,000 in back wages in a settlement struck with the U.S. Labor Department.

    More than a thousand foreign students, most of them from Asia and Eastern Europe, took part in a controversial cultural exchange program that landed them in a Palmyra, Pa., facility where they packaged Hershey candies for promotional displays. Many of the students eventually went on strike, claiming they worked under harsh conditions for illegally low pay.
    (snip)
    Students said the experience at the plant wasn’t at all what they’d been promised. Told they’d experience American culture, the students claimed they spent their days lifting 50-pound boxes under the threat of deportation. Many of them said they’d paid exhorbitant sums of money for the opportunity to do so, having to cover the costs of travel and administrative fees for their visas.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/14/hershey-student-guest-workers_n_2131914.html

    Lots more background here:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/17/us/hershey-foreign-exchange-students-pleas-were-ignored.html

  21. emjayay says:

    Try giving it a spin in your chrome 1960’s Waring Custom Solid State 70 Blendor with Automatic Timer.

  22. hauksdottir says:

    “Bitterness” is extremely personal. À chacun son goût. I love 75-90% dark chocolate, and disdain milk chocolate in favor of “real” chocolate. I also enjoy brussels sprouts. :shrug:

    That Trader Joe’s pound plus bar mentioned by emjayay is very good, and a great price. It lasts for a long time, since you don’t need as much to be satisfied.

    If the bitterness of high-quality chocolate is off-putting, I can recommend combining with hazelnut (which the tastebuds expect to be bitter), or currents and other berries. Chili and cocoa together is wonderful as well. Enchiladas en molé… dark, rich, spicy!

    At least one of the chocolatiers in the SF Bay Area ( http://www.thexocolatebar.com/Pages/default.aspx ) offers classes. I gathered a group of friends and we spent several delightful hours making filled chocolates and other treats, with perhaps a dozen different wildly-flavored centers using spices from all over the world. Yes, that which you make yourself always tastes better, but in this instance… wow!

  23. Drew2u says:

    Both, really. I find the taste to be very… alkaline, I guess, and I have trouble getting powders to mix into it properly.

  24. The_Fixer says:

    What do you mean by “mix well”? Do you mean physically, or taste-wise?

    I have no problem mixing it physically. Taste – well, that’s an individual thing, of course. And in the case of my breakfast cocoa, there’s the rather strong and sweet taste of blackstrap molasses added to the mix, which changes things.

    A friend of mine says that she doesn’t like to fry eggs in coconut oil – but I like an omelet fried in coconut oil. The taste of coconut milk is nothing that I really like by itself. But with the cocoa and lolasses , it’s quite a bit different to me.

    In the end, taste is so subjective, and what tastes OK or good to me may be intolerable for someone else. And I do have an odd set of taste buds, from what others tell me :)

  25. Indigo says:

    From the Amazondotcom grocery site.

  26. Drew2u says:

    Yeah, can we start a list of coca-powder recipes to get the 3oz cocoa recommendation?

    Also, coconut milk + cocoa powder? Whenever I use coconut milk (lactose intolerant, here) I find it tends to not mix well in things like coffee.

  27. The_Fixer says:

    I used to drink coffee like a fiend, and gave it up. Now I have a cup of breakfast cocoa. I use a little less than a tablespoon of Hershey’s dark chocolate flavored cocoa powder, about 8-10 ounces of coconut milk and sweeten it with a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses. It’s a tad bitter, but the molasses tempers that quite a bit and I’ve grown to really like the flavor.

    I’ve read that there are other benefits to cocoa, and it’s nice to read that there’s one more. As much as I like regular chocolate bars, they really are not healthy.

  28. emjayay says:

    Is this better? Unfortunately Hersheys doesn’t list the per centages on their website. German chocolate of any kind always does right on the package. You know, those Germans and all their rules and regulations.

  29. nicho says:

    I use the 85% from TJ’s – and I don’t miss the broccoli at all.

  30. nicho says:

    It all depends on the type of chocolate. If it’s the crap — e.g. Hershey’s — that most people eat, it’s not going to help.

  31. nicho says:

    My thought exactly. Stay away from the Hershey.

  32. AttilatheBlond says:

    Found a dark chocolate bar with currents in it. To die for. And now, it’s a health food.

    Someday, that scene in Sleeper where the scientists ask the cryogenicly (sp?) preserved man if doctors in his time didn’t have lemon meringue pie and other treats to deal with his health problems, might come true. LOL

  33. emjayay says:

    In case you don’t already know, Trader Joe’s sells pound plus bars of several percentages (72%, and I think a higher one) chocolate from Belgium. Cheap. Chow down.

    Now where am I going to find those 450 calories to cut out? Brocolli?

  34. emjayay says:

    I certainly hope you grew them organically from seeds on your plantation.

  35. cole3244 says:

    this info was brought to you by the chocolate industry of america co sponsored by the hersheys corp. lol!

  36. lilyannerose says:

    I wonder if taking chocolate gel caps would have the same effect? I also read that berries carry nutrients that help keep the dementia away!

  37. Indigo says:

    I occasionally roast a cup of raw cacao beans, hull them by hand, grind the nibs, add some cinnamon along with sugar crystals and stir half a teaspoon’s worth into my morning espresso. Mocha!

  38. Monoceros Forth says:

    Wait, this is an item about the healthfulness of chocolate but there’s a picture of a Hershey bar. That’s not chocolate!

  39. Moderation in anything should help. As much as my mother liked chocolate, it didn’t help her avoid dementia. It came from nowhere.

  40. evodevo says:

    Just what I want to hear. And you don’t get drunk. A little dark chocolate a day keeps the Dr away. Fine with me!

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