The best chocolate is the one with 70% cocoa and 30% organic cane sugar. Effective for memory, mood and stimulating the immune response, chocolate is also a valuable ally against inflammation and psychophysical stress. Two recent studies in the United States praise one of the foods most appreciated by young and old people: chocolate is the best way to get flavonoids, molecules with antioxidant activity. Beware, however, of commercial chocolate, which is often enriched with sugars and saturated fats, to mitigate its bitter taste, to the detriment of the antioxidant content. We talk about this topic with Dr. Federica Furfaro, gastroenterologist at Humanitas.
Results of the study
By activating the cells responsible for the immune response (T lymphocytes), the 5 volunteers who were given 48 grams of 70% dark chocolate for 8 consecutive days had significant improvements in the immune response, but also a positive effect on memory performance and learning new skills.
The benefits of moderate consumption for colitis
The flavonoids contained in cocoa, in fact, are able to stimulate the production and release of nitric oxide, which leads to an increase in cerebral blood flow and blood perfusion of the central and peripheral nervous system, such as to provide oxygen and glucose to neurons, also eliminating toxic metabolites in the brain and sensory organs and stimulating angiogenesis in the hippocampus. A modest consumption of chocolate also helps to regulate the intestine and gives benefits to the cardiovascular system. Polyphenols in chocolate, in fact, exert an anti-inflammatory action on the colon, improving the integrity of the mucosa and suggesting an inhibitory effect on the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, with reduction of infiltration of neutrophils, and generation of nitric oxide, associated with improving colitis.
Nitric oxide is a vasodilator and an anti-inflammatory agent
The release of nitric oxide observed after the consumption of dark chocolate with good flavonoid content, also results in a vasodilating and anti-inflammatory action, with reduction of atherogenesis. Finally, the increase in this oxide may explain the antihypertensive effects of cocoa, but also the better lipid profile, as it reduces LDL cholesterol (so-called “bad”) and increases HDL cholesterol (so-called “good”).