Does eating chocolate help with your gout?
Around 1500 AD, a Spanish soldier who was part of the conquest of Mexico and who had observed the emperor of the Aztecs, Moctezuma II, stated that he took no other beverage than chocolate, served in a golden goblet and flavoured with spices like vanilla; his chocolate beverage was whipped into a froth that dissolved into the mouth. Sounds yummy doesn’t it? That was the first introduction of cocoa to the Europeans and became a very popular beverage by the mid 17th century; the rest is history as we say. Cocoa comes from the Theobroma cacao tree which is native to Central and South America, grows the fruit and inside the fruit; there are about 20 to 50 beans.
Cocoa is very rich in polyphenols like isoflavones, anthocyanins, flavanones, catechins, flavonols, flavanols and flavones. From all the foods known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease like tea, apples, red wine, onions; cocoa comes out on top with the highest antioxidants with polyphenol content providing you and I with the greatest cardio protection. The reason for this is that cocoa thins out the blood to avoid blood clots and has the same benefits in aiding you to avoid blood clotting as aspirin!
The Science behind the Cacao bean
A 2007 Harvard Medical School study followed Panama’s Kuna people, which their diet consists mainly of cocoa, to study the effects of cocoa and flavanols. In general, cocoa and chocolate is rich in antioxidants and flavanoids which benefits your cardiovascular health, including avoiding the risk of stroke and may impart anti aging properties, protecting our cells from premature destruction. It should be noted that what we are talking about here is not milk chocolate that we are so accustomed to, which is basically candy but raw cocoa and to a lesser extent, dark chocolate, since flavonoids degrade during cooking and alkalizing processes. Adding milk reduces the overall cocoa content and increases saturated fat levels, missing out on the potential health benefits. What the researchers found was that the Kuna Indians who lived on the islands had decidedly lower rates of heart disease and cancer compared to the Panamanians who lived on the mainland who do not drink cocoa as the Kuna Indians! Other studies have proven also that consuming cocoa reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Finally, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2006 followed elderly men for 15 years as they consumed cocoa compared to other men who didn’t and found that the group of men that consumed cocoa had a 50% less risk of cardiovascular mortality and a 47% reduction in all-cause mortality. So the health benefits of cocoa are unanimous!
So how does cacao benefit gout?
Very simply, cocoa contains flavonoids, powerful antioxidants that fight the symptoms of gout lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels and as these antioxidants improve blood circulation, they in turn increase the amount of uric acid levels that is dissolved in your bloodstream being finally processed properly and out of your urine and into your toilet bowl. Raw cacao prevents inflammation due to its interaction with leukotrienes providing relief from a gout attack working the same way NSAIDs do whereby the flavonoids and polyphenols work together and act as COX2 inhibitors decreasing pain in your joints. Cocoa’s antioxidant properties help keep your body functioning at its optimal best and that also includes the proper functioning of your kidneys which is so important for the gout sufferer in preventing future gout attacks. Let’s not forget that cacao is also mood lifter which will provide you with a more positive and cheerful outlook on life!
What kind of chocolate can I eat?
Most chocolate is just bad for you which contains unhealthy fats, loads of sugar, artificial flavorings, lots of preservatives, has barely any real cocoa in it and has been heated to high temperatures killing most flavonoids! If you eat this type of “candy” chocolate, you will get gout and should be not part of your diet whatsoever. What I’m talking about is raw cacao chocolate products or raw certified organic cacao powder and raw cacao beans which you can find in your local health food store or on Amazon.com. You can eat some dark chocolate from time to time in very minimal amounts, I prefer 99% pure dark chocolate but watch out since excessive consumption of any kind of chocolate, dark or milk chocolate will cause weight gain which will lead to obesity and will worsen your gout. Please consult your doctor before adding raw cacao in your diet.
Posted by Spiro Koulouris
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