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Dark Chocolate and cancer

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The relationship between dark chocolate and cancer is definitely not sweet. It is because dark chocolate contain several ingredients which are assumed to act against cancer. It’s not merely the presence of antioxidants that make dark chocolate a foe of cancer but numerous other compounds are present in cocoa that some way or other inhibit growth of cancerous cells.

Why dark chocolate is preferred over milk chocolate to fight against cancer?

The simple reason is – the cocoa content is much higher in dark varieties. Milk chocolates contain more amounts of sugar and milk and less amount of cocoa, thereby it cannot bring about any health benefits as strongly as dark chocolate.

Furthermore, the milk products interfere with our body’s ability to absorb the antioxidants occurring abundantly in cocoa.

Does dark chocolate help to combat cancer- A myth or fact?

Proposition 1:

Gertraud Maskarinec, MD, PhD, professor at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center Cocoa, says that, “the raw material cocoa in chocolate, contains compounds called catechins and proanthocyanidins. They belong to a class of plant chemicals called flavanols.”  

Now flavonols are those antioxidants that can slow down progression of cancerous cells. They help elimination of carcinogens like heavy metals and free radicals from the body. Although there’s no concrete evidence for anti cancer benefits of flavonoids, there are existing experiments and data that reveal their preventive approach.

Proposition: 2

A group of researcher at Georgetown University has found out a compound known as procyanidin in dark chocolate which is capable of deactivating certain proteins that feed the tumorous cells.

Proposition 3:

The other mode of action found out by the Linus Pauling Institute in the year 2007 is that- when you eat dark chocolates, the flavonols are considered as foreign particles by your body and your body tries to eliminate them by releasing enzymes. These enzymes also have the characteristic property to combat carcinogens and mutagens.

Case studies on rats revealed that, those fed with high cocoa diet were significantly immune to colon cancer than those survived on normal diet.

However, the reports are yet to be proven completely correct and stronger evidences are needed further to establish dark chocolate as an anti cancer agent.

So what’s the bottom line?  

The bottom line is – we cannot completely deny the anti cancer properties of high percentage of cocoa in dark chocolates. At the same time it’s important to choose the right variety to receive the much touted benefits of dark chocolate.

How to pick choose the right kind of dark chocolate?

If you are eating it for therapeutic reasons, then make sure you pick the best established brands containing high concentration of cocoa. The American Institute for Cancer Research, states that, “people should look for pure dark chocolates that contain at least 65 percent cacao”.

Make sure you have it in small serving (one or two bites a day) to receive the health benefits exclusively without adding on to your calories.

We hope the future holds bright for the role of dark chocolate in preventing or protecting against cancer so that everyone can freely nibble on the deliciously delighting dark chocolates.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 29, 2015