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Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Cocoa beans potent antioxidants removed from goodies we eat.

The truth is bittersweet. Something in cocoa beans may be good for your heart, but -- sigh --- that's still no reason to load up on chocolate bars and brownies.

The health potential is real. Cocoa beans have antioxidant compounds called FLAVANOLS and a growing pile of scientific research suggests they do good things to blood vessels.

Despite the enthusiasm, FLAVANOLS are missing from much of the chocolate on store shelves today. FLAVANOLS make chocolate and cocoa taste bitter, and confectioners have spent years trying to perfect ways to remove the pungent flavor.

"Most chocolate, in fact, isn't flavanol-rich", said Norm Hollenberge, a radiology professor and flavanol expert at Harvard Medical School. "But all chocolate is a delight. It can and should be part of a prudent diet. That means you limit what you take".

FLAVANOLS are found in other foods, such as red wine, grapes, apples, and green tea, although cocoa beans are a particularly rich source.

They are tiny, they cannot be seen, even under a microscope. To find them, it takes sophisticated machinery that seems more appropriate for NASA than a chocolate company's laboratories.

Mars Inc. developed the technology to visualize Falvanols on a computer screen. Says Harvard Schmitz, the company's chief science officer. "Now we understand cocoa well enough to start to do new things with it."

The company is starting with CocoaVia granola bars, armed with a special cocoa powder that retains most of the Flavanols. The bars also have plant steroids, which have been shown to help lower cholesterol.

For now, the 80-calorie, 21-gram snack bars are sold only on the INternet. The bars have a satisfyingly rich chocolate flavor, along with a slight but distinct bitter taste.

Researchers are excited by the potential of Flavanols to ward off vascular disease, which can cause heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, dementia and hyperthension. Vascular disease are linked to the artery's inability to make a simple but fundamental chemical called nitric oxide. Flavanols appears to reverse that problem.

(ASSOCIATED PRESS by: Libby Quaid)
posted by infraternam meam @ 12:23 AM  
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Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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