The farmers who harvest cocoa beans for a few cents in the Ivory Coast never tasted chocolate. Watch their faces when they eat it for the first time.
For us westerners chocolate is just one more thing. It’s inconsequential. We like to eat it, sometimes we get delighted by it for a minute. But more often than not it’s just one more snack to stuff our fat faces with. We don’t think about it and the incredible effort and resources that are required to make it. We take it for granted along with the other billion foods and the other billion other technologies and privileges we didn’t fight for.
Came across this funny article. It drew my attention because of my interest in chocolate. It seems from this research that their are three kinds of chocolate eaters: “fast chewers”, “thorough chewers” and “suckers”. The thorough chewers take a significant time for chewing on the chocolate and chew a lot more than the other two groups. Fast chewers keep the chocolate in their mouth for a much shorter time with a significant higher chew rate. Suckers are those that suck on the chocolate rather then chew on it, they also take more time for consuming the chocolate. They chew less but they score high on the swallowing. These findings were independent of the kind of chocolate. The researchers used two kinds of chocolate. I’m afraid I’m a fast chewer, that’s why I need more chocolate. So what kind of chocolate eater are you?
What can you evaluate when eating chocolate?
hardness at first bite (force to bite into chocolate with front teeth), speed of melting (measure of time taken to become molten chocolate), smoothness (of bolus, as opposed to gritty/grainy), thickness (perceived viscosity of molten chocolate) and mouthcoating (extent to which residue coats the mouth after swallowing).
How was this study done?
The objective of this study was to employ EMG and EEG to investigate variation in the individual eating behaviour of chocolate and to determine if changes in eating behaviour relate to observed textural differences between two chocolate samples.
Why is this important?
Characterization of chocolate eating behaviour is important as it will help understand its influence on consumer perception of its texture and flavour. Moreover, it’s possible that chocolate eating behaviour could impact on consumer liking levels and the amount of chocolate eaten, and by association weight gain.
Previous investigations have shown that consumer preferences for biscuits may be related to the way a sample breaks downs in mouth whilst chewing, chewing and swallowing influences the sensory perception of food, ‘Slow’ eating has also been shown to decrease food intake and result in increased satiety.
Carvalho-da-Silva, A., Van Damme, I., Wolf, B., & Hort, J. (2011). Characterisation of chocolate eating behaviour Physiology & Behavior, 104 (5), 929-933 DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2011.06.001
To my astonishment the relation between the exposure of unhealthy snack foods in a supermarket and eating behavior is hardly a topic of research. Read this in a recent study about the relationship between a greater variety of chocolates in supermarket and consumption of chocolates. In this Australian study they used data from 1007 women in 35 neighborhoods with their local supermarkets. They examined the associations between the number of different varieties of chocolate and confectionery items stocked in local supermarkets and consumption of these foods over and above what would be expected based on demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.
In this study no relationship was found. The variety of these snack food items in local neighborhood supermarkets was not associated with women’s confectionery and chocolate consumption. In this cohort women ate either chocolate or confectionery once a week or less in 75% and 82% cases, only 5% ate chocolate on a daily bases.
This could be true but as the authors state, other factors were not included in their analyses. Important possible other factors for snack eating behaviors could be: shelf space occupied by these snacks, promotion of these products, the relative proportion compared to healthy products, product placement, and the presence at check out.
Since the biased publications on this blog about the healthy influences of dark chocolate the result at first seemed promising but most amazing is the probable lack of research. Will chocolate still stand as not very inviting on supermarket shelf space?
Thornton, L., Cameron, A., Crawford, D., McNaughton, S., & Ball, K. (2011). Is greater variety of chocolates and confectionery in supermarkets associated with more consumption? Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 35 (3), 292-293 DOI: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.2011.00706.x
In this video you can see how the Mast Brothers in NYC make their own chocolate. It’s one of the very few places that craft bean-to-bar chocolate. They also have a blog. Be careful what kind of chocolate you buy, let them help you choose the right chocolate bar. If your not keen on very dark chocolate you could end up disappointed as this dude was.
Two recent large epidemiological studies again suggest a beneficial effect of chocolate consumption on cardiovascular disease. One study was a prospective study in 1216 women with a follow up of 9,5 years. The frequency of chocolate consumption was categorized in three groups”: < 1 serving per week, 1-6 servings and 7 or more. Outcome was defined as plaque thickness in the carotid artery and hospitalization or death at follow up as clinical outcome.
Not only were carotid plaques less prevalent in those women eating more chocolate but also those who ate more chocolate were less frequently hospitalized or death from ischemic heart disease.
In a large German study with middle aged participants of both sexes without cardiovascular disease at inclusion also an inverse relationship between chocolate consumption (at the time of enrollment in the study) and cardiovascular disease risk (myocardial infarction and stroke over the following 8 years) could be found.
in the quartile characterized by the lowest chocolate consumption (1.7 g/day) 106 myocardial infarctions and strokes occurred, whereas only 61 events occurred (combined relative risk of 0.61) in the quartile with the highest chocolate consumption (7.5 g/day). In the latter group, both systolic and diastolic blood pressure were found to be 1 mmHg lower as compared with the referent low chocolate consumption quartile.
In our quest for the optimal chocolate dose this last research adds another probable dosage that benefits our cardiovascular system namely 7,5 g/day.
Nevertheless, the problem with these large studies is the proof of a correlation, unfortunately no causation. These studies cannot provide direct proof for the existence of a cause and effect relationship. These two studies add up with two other large epidemiological studies. One in elderly Dutch men (Zutphen Elderly Study) and one in post-menopausal American women (Iowa Women’s Health Study).
Another problem is specificity. Cocoa contains other bioactive substances. Until now the beneficial effect of chocolate is attributed to it’s flavanol content. Moreover, participants might derive flavanols from other food substances such as vegetables, tea or fruit.
Originally, the positive effects of cocoa were found among the Kuna Indians living longer on islands off the coast of Panama than the mainland Panama population. But these Indians drank a cocoa drink that is consumed many times a day. This drink is something completely different from our chocolate. It’s low in calories and contains the unadulterated, unstripped cocoa, its bitterness tempered by sugar. Tried to find it’s recipe on the Internet but without any luck. Recipe anyone?
Buijsse, B., Weikert, C., Drogan, D., Bergmann, M., & Boeing, H. (2010). Chocolate consumption in relation to blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease in German adults European Heart Journal, 31 (13), 1616-1623 DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehq068 Emma Wilkinson (2009). CardioPulse Articles European Heart Journal, 30 (24), 2951-2961 DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehp485 Heiss, C., & Kelm, M. (2010). Chocolate consumption, blood pressure, and cardiovascular risk European Heart Journal, 31 (13), 1554-1556 DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehq114 Lewis JR, Prince RL, Zhu K, Devine A, Thompson PL, & Hodgson JM (2010). Habitual chocolate intake and vascular disease: a prospective study of clinical outcomes in older women. Archives of internal medicine, 170 (20), 1857-8 PMID: 21059981
They tested the protection of epicatechin on heart infarct size in mice. Epicatechin is a flavinoid and a major component of dark chocolate. It has antioxydant effects associated with a lower risk of stroke and heart failure. Epicatechin can bind to opiod receptors that can induce heart protection, moreover it can induce cardiac protection from ischemia-reperfusion injury with a heart attack.
What they did was treat mice with epicatechin and naloxone alone and a combination of both. Naloxone is an opiod antagonist. Infarct size was significantly reduced in the epicatechin group, this effect was attenuated when administered together with naloxone. These data suggest that the protective efect of epicatechin is mediated by the opiod receptor.
This is the first demonstration of a receptor-mediated mechanism for epicatechin-induced cardiac protection.
And for our ongoing discussion on dark chocolate dosage:
Studies show that 6.3 g (30 kCal) per day of dark chocolate containing 30 mg of polyphenols are sufficient to reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients
Panneerselvam, M., Tsutsumi, Y., Bonds, J., Horikawa, Y., Saldana, M., Dalton, N., Head, B., Patel, P., Roth, D., & Patel, H. (2010). Dark chocolate receptors: epicatechin-induced cardiac protection is dependent on -opioid receptor stimulation AJP: Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 299 (5) DOI: 10.1152/ajpheart.00073.2010
In my quest to the right chocolate dose recently discovered a letter in the BMJ about this subject. The authors did a meta analysis. Their results suggest that dark chocolate is superior to placebo in reducing blood pressures of more than 140 mm Hg systolic or more than 80 mm Hg diastolic.
Daily flavanol dosages ranged from 30 mg to 1 g (equivalent to 6.3 g to 100 g of milk or dark chocolate), and interventions ran for two to 18 weeks. Data were insufficient to provide confident answers on optimal dosage and time frame.
However, they question the practicability as a long term treatment. Can you imagine that? They found that 50 g daily of chocolate was significantly less acceptable to participants as a long term treatment for high blood pressure than one capsule daily of placebo or tomato extract (73% v 100%).
A number of studies have shown cardiovascular benefits of eating flavanol rich cocoa. Cocoa is the important substance of chocolate. Especially dark chocolate can contain high levels of flavanols. The possible underlying mechanisms of these cardioprotective properties of chocolate can be several.
The biggest question that remains is about the right dose of dark chocolate. From prior publications suggestion were made about the right dose:
an average amount of 6.7 grams of chocolate per day, corresponding to a small square of chocolate twice or three times a week
no more than 25 gram, or 2.5 squares of dark chocolate, a day
up to 1 serving (20 g) of dark chocolate every 3 days
Until now I’m still holding on to “the more the better”. A recent publication suggested to me by my colleague Cryptocheilus followed 31,823 women 48-83 years old without diabetes or a history of Heart Failure or myocardial infarction. They were participants in the Swedish Mammography Cohort. The researchers categorized the women according to their chocolate intake.
Chocolate intake was categorized as no regular chocolate intake, 1-3 servings of chocolate per month, 1-2 servings per week, 3-6 servings per week and one or more servings per day.
They followed these women up to nine years and their outcome measures were hospitalization for heart failure or death. The rate of heart failure was lower in the group who consumed 1-3 servings of chocolate per month (26%) and those who consumed 1-2 servings per week (32%). The rate of heart failure was not reduced and similar among women with no regular chocolate intake and those who consumed chocolate 3-6 servings per week and those who consumed one or more servings per day.
The advantage of this study is that they took into account several confounding factors such as milk consumption, consumption of snacks, physical activity, smoking, social status. Although it’s a prospectiove cohort study the result should be taken cautiously. It’s not a dose finding study, still waiting on that one. So until then I’ll stick to my 1-2- servings per week, the more the better dose. What about you?
Mostofsky, E., Levitan, E., Wolk, A., & Mittleman, M. (2010). Chocolate Intake and Incidence of Heart Failure: A Population-Based, Prospective Study of Middle-Aged and Elderly Women Circulation: Heart Failure DOI: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.110.944025
Have you been popping those little white pills since high school? Take a pass on your prescription a few months before you plan to start trying, says Christopher Williams, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist in private practice in Charlottesville, Virginia, and author of The Fastest Way to Get Pregnant Naturally. That goes for other forms of hormonal birth control too. (You should stop getting Depo-Provera, injectable shots of progesterone about nine months before you want to try getting pregnant.)
Step 2: Figure Out Your Fertile Days
Today, most doctors recommend using ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) for a more accurate measure of ovulation. Though you can still use basal body temperature (BBT) charting, OPKs give you advance warning that your egg is about to be released, so you can plan accordingly. OPKs work by detecting a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine, which occurs about 36 to 48 hours before you ovulate. If fertility problemas may be suspected by your doctor detects fertility issues you should try with natural fertility pills.
Step 3: Have Sex Before You Ovulate
Pregnancy Sex Tips: Have Fun Sex and Get Pregnant
Trying to conceive doesn’t have to feel like work. Here’s how to make your sex life more fun.
Those hardy sperm can stick around in your uterus and fallopian tubes for two to three days, but your egg only lasts for 12 to 24 hours after it’s released. So having sex before you ovulate boosts the chances that there’ll be sperm around to greet your egg as soon as it debuts.
For a typical 28-day cycle (where you ovulate on day 14), here’s what you’ll do:
* Start having sex a few times a week as soon as your period ends. Getting busy that often ensures you won’t miss your most fertile time, especially if your cycle length varies from month to month.
* Make a point to have sex every other day starting around day 10.
* When you have a positive result on your OPK (around day 12), have sex that day and the next two days—these are your primo days out of the month to conceive.
If the Test Is Negative…
If you Didn’t get pregnant this month? Don’t get upset. Most couples don’t succeed the first time out of the gate (more than half get pregnant by 6 months, about 85 percent by one year). Most likely, you miscalculated your most fertile days, so your partner’s sperm never had the chance to fertilize your egg. Consider switching to a daily OPK if you haven’t already tried it, and get psyched to try again next month.
So, whats up with Chocolate if I get pregnant
During pregnancy sometimes cardiovascular complications specific for pregnancy may arise. I’m talking about preeclampsia and gestational hypertension. Preeclamspia is hypertension arising in pregnancy (pregnancy-induced hypertension) in association with significant amounts of protein in the urine. Preeclampsia refers to a set of symptoms rather than any causative factor. If you want to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need then make sure you Buy Womens Supplements for Fertility Online.
In a recent prospective cohort study women who reported eating chocolate regularly from 1 tot 3 servings per week had a 50% or greater reduced risk of preeclampsia compared to those eating 1 or less servings/week. Moreover,
The greatest rate of preeclampsia (4.5%) occurred among women who did
not regularly consume chocolate in the first and third trimesters of pregnancy. In contrast, only women who regularly consumed chocolate during the first trimester had a reduced risk of gestational hypertension.
This publication was sent to me by my distinguished Dutch colleague and medblogger Cryptocheilus
One other previous study came to the same conclusion of the beneficial effects of theobromine, another one didn’t find these benefits with theobromine possibly due to differences in study design and definitions of preeclampsia and theobromine source. Theobromine is found in chocolate and tea.
A lot of possible underlying mechanisms of the cardioprotective properties of chocolate are possible. You can read about these protective underlying mechanisms of chocolate on cardiovascular disease in: How does Chocolate protect the Heart? .
Last month I wrote about a recent review which included 5 studies of adequate quality for inclusion in a recent meta analysis as well as 8 other peer reviewed studies for the effect of cocoa on blood pressure in: Dark Chocolate to prevent Hypertension?.
This study at least suggests a correlation between eating chocolate and the prevention of preeclampsia and gestational hypertension, it doesn’t prove causality. More protective studies are needed.
Saftlas, A., Triche, E., Beydoun, H., & Bracken, M. (2010). Does Chocolate Intake During Pregnancy Reduce the Risks of Preeclampsia and Gestational Hypertension? Annals of Epidemiology, 20 (8), 584-591 DOI: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2010.05.010