Chocolate: The Next New Superfruit?
By: Diane Toops, News & Trends Editor
When researchers at the Hershey Center for Health & Nutrition compared the antioxidant activity in fruit powders, cocoa powder, dark chocolate, and hot chocolate, they found that, gram per gram, there was more antioxidant capacity, and a greater total flavanol content, in the cocoa powder. One could say cacao seeds are the new superfruit.
Theobroma is Greek for "the food of the gods." One of the reasons chocolate is so popular is the natural high one gets from theobromine, which promotes blood flow and brain activity for the sleep-impaired. Caffeine is found in small doses in cacao and kola nut from which cola beverages are made. The name theobromine comes from Theobroma, which is a classification of the cacao tree. Even though it is considered to be similar to caffeine, it has a lesser effect on our central nervous system. Theobromine has been known to contribute to the belief that chocolates are aphrodisiacs and is known to increase heartbeat and dilate blood vessels, helping to reduce blood pressure.