Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Theobroma cacao and cardiovascular health

Theobroma cacao also called the cocoa tree (4–8 m (13–26 ft) tall) is evergreen tree native to the deep tropical regions of Central and South America. Its seeds, cocoa beans, are used to make cocoa mass, cocoa powder, and chocolate.
Cocoa is prepared by grinding the beans into a paste between hot rollers and mixing it with sugar and starch, part of the fat being removed. Chocolate is prepared in much the same way, but the fat is retained. Oil of Theobroma or cacao butter is a yellowish white solid and it is used as an ingredient in cosmetic ointments and in pharmacy for coating pills and preparing suppositories. It has excellent emollient properties and is used to soften and protect chapped hands and lips.
The seeds contain about 2% of theobromine and 40-60% of solid fat.
Theobromine, the alkaloid contained in the beans, resembles caffeine in its action, but its effect on the central nervous system is less powerful. Its action on muscle, the kidneys and the heart is more pronounced. It is used principally for its diuretic effect due to stimulation of the renal epithelium. It is especially useful when there is an accumulation of fluid in the body resulting from cardiac failure, when it is often given with digitalis to relieve dilatation. It is also employed in high blood pressure as it dilates the blood-vessels.
Cocoa is a good source of iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and zinc.
Cocoa also contain a high level of antioxidants such as procyanidins and flavanoids, specifically catechin, which may have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health and antiaging properties. 
Prolonged intake of flavanol-rich cocoa has been linked to cardiovascular health benefits, though this refers to raw cocoa and to a lesser extent, dark chocolate, since flavonoids degrade during cooking and alkalizing processes.  
Short-term benefits in LDL cholesterol levels from dark chocolate consumption have been found.
Cocoa beans, cocoa butter and cocoa powder are traded on two world exchanges: ICE Futures U.S. and NYSE Liffe Futures and Options. The London market is based on West African cocoa and New York on cocoa predominantly from Southeast Asia. Cocoa is the world's smallest soft commodity market.

Healthy hot chocolate from cocoa powder

  • 4 tbsp of cocoa powder (best unroasted)
  • 250 ml of milk (cow-, vegetable-, oat-, spelled-, almond-, coconut- or rice- milk)
  • 2 pinches of ground mixed spice (allspice, cinnamon, coriander, cloves, anise, nutmeg, fennel, cardamom)
  • 1 tbsp of maple syrup
Heat cup of milk and add bitter cocoa, maple syrup and mixed spice
"tbsp" ~ tablespoon
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