Smart bar

I don’t usually get too enthusiastic over animal studies or test tube experiments. They’re just not as hard-hitting as even the most preliminary human research. So I don’t tend to write about them–at least not at great length–very often.

But when I come across good news about chocolate? Well, I just can’t resist.

As part of a recent study, researchers took polyphenols from commercial cocoa powder and observed the effect that they have on cells in the laboratory.

The team was able to confirm cocoa’s antioxidant properties. (A benefit of dark chocolate that everyone’s heard about by now.) But they also found that cocoa polyphenols trigger neuroprotective activity and ward off brain cell death.

This means that cocoa could provide a natural defense mechanism against brain diseases linked to oxidative stress. Conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

In fact, the study’s author went so far as to say that cocoa might even surpass other popular sources of flavonoids (like green tea) when it comes to preventive power.

I have to say, if cocoa actually works as an effective mode of disease prevention, this could be a real breakthrough. We just have to figure out ways to get more chocolate without added sugar counteracting its antioxidant capacity.

Of course, the levels of polyphenols vary among different kinds of cocoa, too. But it shouldn’t be too difficult to find one that’s both tasty and has a high level of polyphenols.

And since so many people love chocolate, who wouldn’t want an excuse to consume more?

So, I suggest you do what I do and use Stevia or Lo Han to sweeten 100 percent cocoa powder. It makes for a delicious concoction when you mix it with unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk.

You can get your hands on a few of my recipes by signing up for my monthly newsletter or reading any of my books. I’m full of ideas for indulging in chocolate without the risks of sugar.

And I’m always thrilled to share.

Cocoa powder triggers neuroprotective and preventive effects in a human Alzheimer’s Disease model by modulating BDNF signaling pathway. J Cell Biochem. 2013 Mar 28.