Articles by Natural Health Author Barbara Minton
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Cocoa Butter Isn’t Just for Chocolate Lovers Anymore
by Barbara Minton
(The Best Years in Life) Would you like to have a substance that boosts heart health, pumps up immunity, reduces inflammation, slows aging, and tastes great? If so, it may be time for real cocoa butter, the substance that makes chocolate melt in your mouth. Like the entire cocoa bean, cocoa butter is quite high in antioxidant polyphenols and flavonoids, and its fatty acid profile can’t be beat.
In addition to the making of chocolate, light yellow cocoa butter has been used for centuries in cosmetics, skin creams, pharmaceuticals and ointments. Today scientists are beginning to discover the ways cocoa butter helps restore the body and keep it healthy and in homeostasis.
In a recent controlled rat study, researchers investigated the effects of cocoa butter on biochemical parameters including antioxidant status, kidney function, immunity, and lipid (fats) profile. This produced several interesting findings.
The researchers found the level of serum creatinine, a compound produced by metabolism, was reduced in rats receiving cocoa butter. Increased creatinine levels in the blood suggest kidney disease or other conditions that affect kidney function, including damage to or swelling of blood vessels in the kidneys, which may have been the result of infection or autoimmune disease.
They also determined that triglycerides and a type of LDL cholesterol known as VLDL were also decreased in the cocoa butter-eating rats. Although everyone needs some triglycerides for good health, high levels of them may raise risk of heart disease and may be a sign of metabolic syndrome. This syndrome is a combination of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, too much fat around the waist, low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides.
Immunoglobulin M (IgM), a basic antibody produced by B cells, is by far the physically largest antibody in the human circulatory system. It is the first antibody to appear in response to initial exposure to an antigen, which is a toxin or other foreign substance that induces an immune response in the body. The researchers found that IgM was significantly lower in rats eating cocoa butter compared to the controls, suggesting increased immunity.
Cocoa butter’s rich blend of fatty acids and antoxidants make it a great choice for reducing inflammation of the skin as well. Whether it’s rashes, eczema, or psoriasis on the face or body, it can be quickly soothed.
Cocoa butter is a fat with integrity
Once upon a time almost everyone ate a diet chocked full of saturated animal fats, and remained trim and healthy. But a fellow named Ancel Keys came along and changed all that. After hearing him speak, we began to shun the fats of our ancestors and embraced highly processed seed oils. The result has been at least three generations of people with increased metabolic syndrome and cancer. Today some of us are once again embracing saturated fats, including coconut oil, butter and even lard, but it has been a rather abrupt change which has left many people confused.
The answer for them may be cocoa butter, which is a vegetable fat with high stability yet is only partially saturated and seems to have a more pleasant taste and consistency than coconut oil. Cocoa butter has a shelf life of up to 5 years due to its richness in antioxidants. There is little chance it can become rancid. Its stability at room temperature but relatively low melting point makes it an ideal base for medicinal creams.
The polyphenolic components found in cocoa butter have been shown to help lower markers of inflammation involved in atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). This is why cocoa butter and chocolate are now considered anti-inflammatory food. Cocoa butter is linked with a decreased risk for vascular events, such as heart attack.
Cocoa butter goes a long way to fight aging, because of its high concentration of antioxidants which include palmitic, oleic and stearic fatty acids. These are beneficial because they act to neutralize free radicals throughout the body, particularly in the skin. There they reduce signs of aging such as wrinkles and age spots, and they help restore the look of youth. Using cocoa butter on the face can provide a barrier to protect it from any environmental damage.
Cocoa butter can add moisture to hair, helping to enhance appearance and adding strength. It has been linked to reduced incidence of dandruff and healthier follicles. As such it may reduce hair loss.
To achieve these benefits, real cocoa butter must be used. Beware of products that say they “contain” cocoa butter, because they will probably have very little or none in their products. The best place to get real pure cocoa butter is on the internet.
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