Tags: Could | Cocoa | the | Next | Penicillin?

Could Cocoa be the Next Penicillin?

Thursday, 14 June 2007 12:00 AM

Epicatechin, a compound found in cocoa, may be the key to reducing stroke, heart failure, and cancer. The ingredient could one day be ranked in importance alongside penicillin and anesthesia, according to Norman Hollenberg, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The Futurist magazine reported that Hollenberg studied the Kuna, an island-dwelling group of people in Panama. The Huna drink up to 40 cups of cocoa a week and Hollenberg found they had a much lower rate of heart disease that Panamanians who lived on the mainland and drank less cocoa. In fact, the mainlander's rate of heart disease was 1,280 percent higher than the Kuna, and they also had a 630 percent higher risk of dying from cancer.

"If these observations predict the future, then we can say without blushing that they are among the most important observations in the history of medicine," Hollenberg told the journal Science & Industry.

Epicatechin is a flavanol – an antioxidant compound found in wine, tea, and chocolate that has been found to help blood vessels relax and improve blood flow. Hollenberg believes this not only gives cardiovascular health a boost, but may also help reduce the risk of Alzheimer's by getting more blood to the brain.

But don't start gulping cocoa. Most commercially available cocoa drinks have had the epicatechin removed because it's bitter. Still, experts say it may be possible to remove it from cocoa and manufacture it as a dietary supplement.

"We all agree that penicillin and anesthesia are enormously important," said Hollenberg. "But epicatechin could potentially get rid of four of the five most common diseases in the Western world. How important does that make epicatechin? I would say very important."

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Epicatechin, a compound found in cocoa, may be the key to reducing stroke, heart failure, and cancer. The ingredient could one day be ranked in importance alongside penicillin and anesthesia, according to Norman Hollenberg, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical...
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Thursday, 14 June 2007 12:00 AM
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