Candy as Medicine?

As a confectioner, I take heart when even an ingredient shows signs of a health benefit.  A NEWSmax Health article reports briefly on nine possible health benefits from flavonoids in candy, predominantly, although not exclusively, in chocolate.

The author reported on a study by the British Medical Journal that again supported the common claim that the antioxidant flavonoids in dark chocolate decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke by 39%.  BMJ: “Daily consumption of dark chocolate can reduce cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes, in people with metabolic syndrome (a cluster of factors that increases the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes).”  BMJ qualifies the claim by saying, “Dark chocolate (containing at least 60% cocoa solids) is rich in flavonoids… but this has only been examined in short-term studies.”

NEWSmax Health also reported that, “The Harvard School of Public Health found that people who ate candy several times a month lived almost a year longer than those who ate no candy at all.  Researchers believed that the antioxidant phenol, which is found in red wine, may be the reason for the increased longevity of candy lovers.  They also speculated that cacao, from which chocolate is made, can reduce oxidation of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and can enhance immune function.”

NEWSmax Health: “A 2011 animal study found that a flavonoid in licorice called glabridin reversed  learning and memory problems caused by Type 2 diabetes and also improved the  memory of non-diabetic animals. In addition, a study conducted at the U.K.’s  University of Hull found that dark chocolate increased levels of HDL or “good”  cholesterol in Type 2 diabetics.  “Chocolate with a high cocoa content should be included in the diet of individuals with Type 2 diabetes as part of a sensible,  balanced approach to diet and lifestyle,” said researcher Steve Atkin, Professor  of Diabetes and Endocrinology. “This study demonstrates that it can offer a  potential reduction in cardiovascular risk without detrimental risks on weight,  insulin resistance or glycemic control.”

Those of us (who are many) not expert in the study of how flavonoids impact the body can only try to stay abreast of current research and implement the recommendations sensibly.

The article goes on to discuss how chewing gum can increase serotonin levels, how peppermint improves concentration when test-taking, how a chemical in ginger aids upset stomachs, how a compound in cocoa beans slows the growth of certain fast-growing cancers, and how theobromine in chocolate is more effective than codeine in suppressing coughs.

I just knew that warm, spicy ginger snap I adore had healing properties…

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