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What is Flavanol?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Flavanol is a naturally occurring antioxidant found in various types of plants. Its antioxidant qualities can be extremely important to maintaining a healthy body, although it's important to use products that have not been diluted in order to receive the full benefit. Coco beans are one plant that contains a significant amount of these compounds.

As with many antioxidants, flavanols promote health by helping the body to deal with the presence of free radicals. Essentially, they inhibit the ability of the free radicals to trigger negative changes within the body chemistry. These types of antioxidants are also credited with helping to prevent blood clots. There is also some evidence that the compounds can be helpful in reducing the level of LDL or bad cholesterol in the bloodstream.

In recent years, some experiments conducted with cocoa flavanol indicate that the substance can also improve the flow of blood to and from the brain. While more testing is necessary, early indications support the idea that cocoa with a high level of these antioxidants may be helpful in restoring the balance of mood enhancing chemicals in the brain. If further experimentation proves this hypothesis to be true, it could mean that certain types of cocoa might be helpful in treating depression, anxiety, and possibly even dementia.

It is important to draw a distinction between chocolate and cocoa flavanols. The amount of antioxidants present in the cocoa blends used in most commercial chocolate products is significantly less than what is found in cocoa beans. This suggests that attempting to increase levels in the body by consuming more chocolate is likely to result in nothing more than a larger waistline and possibly blood glucose spikes.

Another issue with chocolate is its high fat content. Cocoa is normally devoid of a great deal of fat, so consuming cocoa that is antioxidant rich is not likely to create any issues for the body in terms of weight gain, clogged arteries, or unpleasant shifts in blood sugar levels.

When included as part of a balanced diet, foods with a significant flavanol content may enhance the ability of all the organs of the body to function properly. By controlling the activity of free radicals, the antioxidant will also support the function of the body's immune system, allowing the system to efficiently deal viruses and other elements that invade the body. A medical professional can provide guidelines regarding the type of foods, including cocoa, that an individual can consume, and the maximum daily allotment required to achieve the desired result.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including The Health Board, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments
By Sinbad — On Aug 19, 2011

tolleranza - I love finding out those things as well, it was like the day I found out having a beer or glass of wine is good for your health (I cannot remember why now, but I make sure to still have one every now and then)!

I do not know about cocoa powder, though I would assume that it has good flavanol amounts just as dark chocolate does.

Dark chocolate is also a good choice for flavanoids and is considered more of a healthy chocolate than milk chocolate for a few reasons one being that it contains fewer carbohydrates than milk chocolate.

But I have also read that apples and broccoli are good choices for flavanols and you do not have to worry about too much fat in those choices!

By tolleranza — On Aug 18, 2011

I love finding out foods that taste good and have positive aspects to them such as cocoa beans having flavanol antioxidants!

Now I get from the article that chocolate flavanol is not as great as the cocoa flavanol found in cocoa beans, but what about cocoa powder and other sources of cocoa? If they are lower in fat like cocoa beans are they good sources of flavanol?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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