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Thursday, June 12, 2008

How Much Cocoa do the Kuna Drink?

I finally came across a piece of information I've been looking for -- how much flavanoid do the Kuna get from their daily cocoa. Right in the abstract of a 2007 paper from NK Hollenberg (who has done a lot of cocoa research in conjunction with the MARS(TM) nutritional research team), it says that the Kuna living in the San Blas islands get more than 900 mg/day of flavonoids. So if cocoa flavanols really are the factor preventing hypertension, heart attacks, diabetes, and cancer in the San Blas, then the effective dose must be 900mg/day or less. That is potentially a lot of cocoa....

The researchers observed that Kuna populations living in the San Blas had strikingly lower incidence of death from heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes millitus than Kuna living on the Panama mainland.

Of course, cocoa consumption is not the only difference between the two Kuna populations and the information on their death certificates. The authors propose several other potential contributing factors:

  • Differential diagnosis -- medical care is not as good on the islands, so some cases of these diseases may have been missed on the islands furthest from hospitals and clinics
  • Stress is slightly lower in the islands
  • There might be other dietary differences besides cocoa between island and mainland Kuna
  • Island inhabitants may have a higher level of physical activity.
  • The air and water might be more polluted on the mainland, especially in and near the city.

How to eat more chocolate for your heart -- and how to drink cocoa black

Does Flavanol Intake Influence Mortality from Nitric Oxide-Dependent Processes? Ischemic Heart Disease, Stroke, Diabetes Mellitus, and Cancer in Panama. Vicente Bayard, Fermina Chamorro, Jorge Motta, and Norman K. Hollenberg. Int J Med Sci. 2007; 4(1): 53–58.


thomas said...

I have been drinking baking cocoa that is not dutched from my local grocery by mixing a big tablespoon in hot water for about half the cup, adding vanilla extract, red pepper, skim milk and clear stevia for taste. I find it helps to fend off hunger, makes me feel good and has few calories for the benefits I perceive. My blood pressure is an issue and I think this helps a little. My doctor was very encouraging at my last checkup.

Fred said...

Cocoa to the rescue! When doctors realize this and start prescribing more chocolate, I will be a very happy person.