Don’t like red wine? Have dark chocolate, cocoa

October 15th, 2008 - 3:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 15 (IANS) Resveratrol, an anti-oxidant and red wine compound that protects the liver from fat accumulation caused by excessive drinking, is also present in dark chocolate and cocoa.The study “shows that the levels of resveratrol found in cocoa and chocolate products forms yet another important link between the antioxidants found in cocoa and dark chocolate to other foods,” said David Stuart, director of Natural Product Science at The Hershey Company.

“Resveratrol gained widespread attention in the early 1990s when it was identified in relatively high amounts in red wine, which is associated with the French Paradox,” said Debra Miller, director of nutrition at Hershey.

“Despite eating a diet equally high in saturated fat as the typical American diet, the French were shown to have about one-third the level of cardiovascular disease,” Miller added.

“Continued research indicates that moderate consumption of red wine, along with fruits, vegetables, nuts and lower amounts of red meat, may contribute to this lower risk of heart of disease,” she said.

Top selling retail products from six categories were tested for the level of resveratrol and its sister compound, piceid. The six product categories included cocoa powder, baking chocolate, dark chocolate, semi-sweet baking chips, milk chocolate and chocolate syrup, according to a Hershey Company press release.

Gram for gram, cocoa powder had the highest average amount of resveratrol and piceid, followed by baking chocolates, dark chocolates, semi-sweet chips, milk chocolate and then chocolate syrup. In the products studied, the level of piceid was three to six times the level of resveratrol.

When the cocoa and chocolate levels were compared to published values for a serving of red wine, roasted peanuts and peanut butter, resveratrol levels of cocoa powders, baking chocolates and dark chocolate all exceeded the levels for roasted peanuts and peanut butter per serving, but were less than California red wine.

According to an article this month’s in Nutrition Reviews, resveratrol was shown to improve insulin sensitivity, blood cholesterol levels and have neuroprotective actions in animal studies. Further, the article states, studies in mice indicate that diets high in resveratrol were associated with increased longevity..

“For years, flavanols, a different class of compounds in chocolate, received most of the attention, but these are quite different than resveratrol. It is exciting to see additional antioxidants identified in cocoa and chocolate.” explained Jeff Hurst, the lead project chemist.

These finding were published in the Sep 24 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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