Sweet! Hot Cocoa May Prevent Heart Disease

Cocoa Has More Antioxidants Than Red Wine, Tea

From the WebMD Archives

Nov. 6, 2003 -- Sweet news, as winter approaches: Hot cocoa has more disease-fighting antioxidants than tea or red wine. And the heat may help propel them into the bloodstream.

Extensive studies have shown that black tea, green tea, red wine, and cocoa are "major" sources of antioxidants called phenols and flavonoids -- antioxidant chemicals found naturally in foods that can help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer, writes lead researcher Ki Won Lee, PhD, a food science researcher with Seoul National University in South Korea.

Lee's study appears in the latest Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

In their study, Lee and colleagues performed a complicated chemical analysis of cocoa, black tea, green tea, and red wine, finding that cocoa had the highest levels of antioxidants, twice as high as red wine, and nearly three times stronger than green tea:

  • Cocoa had 611 mg of phenols and 564 mg of flavonoids.
  • Red wine had 340 mg of phenols and 163 mg of flavonoids.
  • Green tea had 165 mg of phenols and 47 mg of flavonoids.
  • Black tea had 124 mg of phenols and 34 mg of flavonoids.

"These results suggest that cocoa is more beneficial to health than teas and red wine in terms of its higher antioxidant capacity" and ability to fight damage leading to heart disease and cancer, writes Lee.

One caveat: "Even though a bar of chocolate exhibits strong antioxidant activity, the health benefits are still controversial because relatively large amounts of saturated fats are present," Lee says. "However, a cup of hot cocoa has a much lower level of saturated fats (0.3 g per serving) than a bar of chocolate (8 g per 40 g bar)."

Heat may help trigger release of more antioxidants, Lee writes. The new finding makes hot cocoa a compelling addition to our kitchen arsenal of cancer and heart-disease fighting foods.

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on November 06, 2003

Sources

SOURCE: Lee, K. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Dec. 3, 2003.

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