Harvard Scientists Compare Chocolate to Viagra!

A green and brown pod containing cacao
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It’s true—cacao powder (cocoa) helps your blood pressure.

Even better news is that two meta-analyses from Harvard show more reasons to look at chocolate as a health food.

While I have always advocated eating high quality dark chocolate, this research carves a deeper spot for chocolate’s role in the Bulletproof Diet.

But I digress…

The chemicals within chocolate that support your cardiovascular system are called flavonoids. Flavonoids are the largest family of polyphenols found in cocoa. They have all the biohacking benefits you’d expect such as lowering blood pressure, increasing blood vessel health, and improving cholesterol levels.(1,2)

Harvard epidemiologist and nutritionist Eric Ding, Ph.D., found that consumption of flavonoid-rich cocoa was linked to reductions in risk factors for diabetes, a major contributor to cardiovascular disease. Resistance to the hormone insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar, favorably dropped among people who consumed cocoa compared to those who didn’t.

He states:

“Our research fou­nd that high-flavanol cocoa both lowers insulin and insulin resistance – thereby improving sensitivity. The body gets better at pulling dangerous sugar out of the blood stream [when cocoa is consumed], which is good for fighting against diabetes.

High flavanol cocoa improves blood flow via endothelial function (as measured by improved flow-mediated dilation)—which benefits the entire body. Good circulation is the key to heart and brain health, and diabetes risk is increased by poor endothelial blood flow. Interestingly, erectile dysfunction is also fundamentally a circulation problem—Viagra® is also shown to improve flow-mediated dilation, similar to cocoa.”(3)

His research and another Harvard study published in the spring of 2012 together showed that cocoa counters the effects of obesity connected to insulin resistance.

We avoid this insulin resistance by eating the Bulletproof Diet, but his findings contribute substantial results towards a healthier cardiovascular system. If cocoa can be compared to Viagra® pertaining to blood flow, than cocoa is doing something right. 😉

Continuing the Chocolate Love Affair

High blood pressure is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease attributing to about 50% of cardiovascular events worldwide and 37% of cardiovascular related deaths in Western populations.(4) The knowledge of cocoa’s blood pressure benefits really ought to be commonplace.

Many Bulletproof readers already know that high quality chocolate has a lot of health benefits, but after discovering substantial problems with chocolate processing quality in today’s mass-produced chocolate industry I created Upgraded Chocolate and Upgraded Cacao Butter using the highest standards, one I designed myself to minimize the formation of toxins from mold and fermentation in chocolate. The Bulletproof process used to produce Upgraded Chocolate minimizes mycotoxins and retains 86% of the beneficial compounds throughproper chocolate selection, permaculture, processing, fermentation, and storage.

Through these new findings, we have one more reason to continue a love affair with chocolate!  The flavonoids found in cocoa increase the formation of endothelial nitric oxide, which decreases blood pressure.(5) It can upgrade your cardiovascular system and improve many vital functions of the body that will be discussed in an upcoming post on the 19 benefits of chocolate.

Chocolate is a food you may have mistakenly given up in the past, but the evidence tells me that eating high quality, low mold toxin dark chocolate is good for me. Eating as much as 45 grams a day may not only be beneficial, it’s delicious! If you’re looking for a perfect Bulletproof snackchocolate can be a great choice. It’s a heck of a lot better than a Powerbar!

I eat my Upgraded Chocolate powder either in “Get Some” Ice Cream or in a raw egg smoothie with XCT oil and coconut oil, or I add it to Bulletproof Coffee to make a mocha. It’s simply awesome!

What do you do with your high quality dark chocolate?

References:

  1. Shrime MG, Bauer SR, McDonald AC, Chowdhury NH, Coltart CE, Ding EL. Flavonoid-rich cocoa consumption affects multiple cardiovascular risk factors in a meta-analysis of short-term studies. J Nutr. 2011 Nov;141(11):1982-8. Epub 2011 Sep 28. PubMed PMID: 21956956.
  2. Grassi D, Desideri G, Necozione S, Ruggieri F, Blumberg JB, Stornello M, Ferri C. Protective effects of flavanol-rich dark chocolate on endothelial function and wave reflection during acute hyperglycemia. Hypertension. 2012 Sep;60(3):827-32. Epub 2012 Jul 30. PubMed PMID: 22851734.
  3. “Cocoa Linked to Blood Flow Benefits, Reduction of Diabetic Risk Factors.”Nutraceuticals World. N.p., n.d. Web. Sept. 2012. <http://www.nutraceuticalsworld.com/contents/view_breaking-news/2012-08-31/cocoa-linked-to-blood-flow-benefits-reduction-of-diabetic-risk-factors/>.
  4. Sudano I, Flammer AJ, Roas S, Enseleit F, Ruschitzka F, Corti R, Noll G. Cocoa, blood pressure, and vascular function. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2012 Aug;14(4):279-84. PubMed PMID: 22684995.
  5. Ried K, Sullivan TR, Fakler P, Frank OR, Stocks NP. Effect of cocoa on blood pressure. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Aug 15;8:CD008893. PubMed PMID: 22895979.
  6. Mellor, D. D., Sathyapalan, T., Kilpatrick, E. S., Beckett, S. and Atkin, S. L. (2010), High-cocoa polyphenol-rich chocolate improves HDL cholesterol in Type 2 diabetes patients. Diabetic Medicine, 27: 1318–1321. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2010.03108.x
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By Dave Asprey

  • I add 2.5 tablespoons of cocoa powder into the blender along with the basic BP formula, 1/4 teaspoon Saigon Cinnamon, and a dash of turmeric and ginger.

  • regular reader

    Thanks for posting this.
    The fact that RCTs have been conducted on FRC is indeed nice and maybe useful. Yet I have to bang my head against the wall for this:”The flavonoids found in cocoa increase the formation of endothelial nitric oxide, which decreases blood pressure.(5)”Excuse me, but this is like saying “The chemicals found in bricks increase the formation of houses, which decreases homelessness.”NO formation in endothelia is mediated through the insulinergic system of the vascular endothelium, as is endothelin-1 formation. Look it up in that summary article, the biochemistry is well-researched: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11561143So the lowered blood pressure is most probably a direct result of the lowered insulinergic response and most probably not, as portrayed here, a separate effect of FRC. The papers cited do not enlighten us on a separate mechanism, they are marker-oriented experiments.
    It is of no use to cite the positive effects of some chemical without connecting the dots of metabolism and signalling.
    And yes, I’m Mr. Know-It-All, at least on that topic. I’m sorry 🙂

  • ilovechocolate

    How do you use the UG cacao butter? Any recipes? I think I want to buy both the powder and the butter, but not sure how to use the butter. Thanks!

  • Patrick

    Funny you should make a post about this, as I just received 5 pounds of roasted (slightly) cacao from Peru. I put 2 handfulls of this stuff in with my bulletproof coffee + coconut oil and HOLY SHIT. I literally felt as I if I had taken a small amount of MDMA. The biochemistry contained within the cacao bean is fascinating stuff – everything from serotonin and dopamin building blocks to maois. Just from the diverse chemistry alone, it’s easy to see that this is a VERY potent super food, potentially one of THE most potent. Looking forward to more research.

  • Rowlin

    I’ve been using Arriba Nacional raw orgainc cacao powder from Ecuador and making chocolate with coconut oil. For sweetener I use Erythritol and Yacon syrup, also add vanilla. Sometimes I use a little coconut milk to dissolve the Erythritol. It’s delicious and keeps my blood sugar low, usually in the 70’s or low 80’s. It’s like fudge at room temp and hard when refrigerated. Dave, what do you think of Yacon for a sweetener? It’s supposed to be about 50% fructooligosacharides, but there doesn’t seem too be too much info about it out there. Glad to see you’re offering chocolate powder and cacao butter, definitely going to try that.

  • Sophia

    Was excited to try UG Cacao Butter. The first time I bought cacao butter was at the local, original hippy health food store now gone ultra sleek and hip. I thought their product was gross and had no clue what cacao butter should taste like.

    Well, now I KNOW. UG Cacao is DELISH!!! My taste buds have fallen in love with Cacao Butter. I am now eager to try UG Chocolate and compare yours to the organic raw coco powder I have been using. Waiting on your restocking of this product.

    The vanilla powder is delicious as well. UG vanilla saves me lots of time of separating the vanilla granules from the pod. This is my fave way to use vanilla! 🙂

    Thanks Dave for your products. Some day with enough customers, I hope the prices will drop without a drop in quality!

    Sophia

    • Dave Asprey

      Thank you!!!

      I quit eating cacao butter because it was so bad, but the good stuff is unbelievable!
      Volumes are going up an we are working to make prices lower. The great quality costs us a lot more and we don’t mark it up very much so volume helps!
      Sent from my nobile phone. You understand….

      • Sophia

        I’ve compared your BF raw chocolate powder to a brand I purchased at our local health food store. BF Chocolate is darker in color, it is more of brown color than a reddish brown. It does taste BETTER! The other brand is more bitter.

        I’m hooked on the Cocoa Butter. I’d say one needs @ least 2 lbs of the Cocoa Butter to 1 lb of the Chocolate powder. SO YUMMY!

        Well Done!

        • Rowlin

          I agree, I’ve compared bulletproof chocolate to 3 or 4 other raw organic chocolate powders, and BF is the best. It has the richest darkest taste. The others are either a little bland or a touch bitter. I’m hooked on the stuff, I make my homemade chocolate every day.

  • Laura

    Dave, is your chocolate powder fair trade?

    • viaespresso

      Fair Trade is becoming highly unpopular. Nothing Fair about it overall and zero focus on quality. Just another profit focused organization offering an expensive logo for your product. Rainforest alliance seem to be more honourable and better still is direct deals with farmers

  • viaespresso

    Re post below from regular reader. It seems every question you ask on the web will often result in at least 3 conflicting answers.
    That’s why I like BulletProof cause it provides a road map to help work out what is good for you individually.
    No one solution suits all.
    Interesting the link to your research doesn’t work?

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