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mccoy

Kuna Indians and the cacao heaven

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Surely most of you guys have heard about the Kuna  Indians in the San Blas island, Panama.

 

cuna01.JPG

 

Such a population is well known for its heavy consumption of cocoa drinks (they don't have a reliable water source).

They use unprocessed ground cocoa beans and bananas as a sweetener. Their average daily polyphenols content has been estimated at about 2000 mg/day (2 grams per day). Cocoa is especially rich in the (-) epicatechin molecule, present as a monomer or chained in larger molecules up to polymers.

Flavanols, the Kuna, Cocoa Consumption, and Nitric Oxide

After having consulted two databases on polyphenols and proanthocyanines (PAs) and various articles with analyses on cocoa powders (all related in the longecity thread) , I've calculated that 100 grams of unprocessed (undutched) cocoa powder on the average may contain 5% in weight polyphenols (5 g/100g).

 

So, if we are not out of luck, hitting on a statistical outlier ot low percentile product, we can reach the polyphenol amount ingested by the kuna indians by ingesting 40 grams of unprocessed, unsweetened cocoa powder. This may be done by drinks but also by the following recipe, which I tried tonite and calle 'Kunana (Kuna Indians banana):

 

Kunana

  • 200 grams mashed bananas
  • 8 tablespoons cacao powder, mixed thoroughly with a fork to the mashed bananas.

 

The resulting paste is delicious, nourishing and appeasing. Most important, it yields the same average daily amount of polyphenols of an average Kuna Indian.

So, by extrapolation, we should be able to enjoy the same well known cardiovascular benefits of the Kunas, and more.

By the way, such a recipe can consitute a 352 kCal meal.

 

I wonder what you guys think about it, positive and negative comments, like the possible excess in caffeine and theobromine and in toxic metals.

This is the cronometer breakup of a Kunana meal as described above.

post-7347-0-37099800-1489608189_thumb.jpg

Edited by mccoy

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I used to consume more cocoa until the reports came out about how most sources are contaminated.  Now I don't trust it.  I'd start eating it again if I could find a reasonably priced source that I was confident about (independently lab tested, and not likely to change in quality over time).

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You might do better with a different fruit.  Blueberries or even strawberries would probably contribute more polyphenols than a caloric equivalent of bananas.  I've done something similar using cranberries and a little stevia for sweetness.  I also usually add coconut cream or dairy cream because I prefer the taste and texture and the macro nutrient profile better matches my goals.

Edited by Todd Allen

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I used to consume more cocoa until the reports came out about how most sources are contaminated.  Now I don't trust it.  I'd start eating it again if I could find a reasonably priced source that I was confident about (independently lab tested, and not likely to change in quality over time).

 

Of course Gordo you are right. There are specific strategies we can adopt though, in this case the best would probably be regular hair analyses. Most of you guys in this forum have frequent blood analyses done, so doing some hair to monitor accumulation of toxic metals and compounds does not sound like a bad idea.

If specific pollutants concentrated by cocoa like lead and cadmium increase in positive correlation with our higher consumption, then we are advised to stop.

Another idea, that I read in Dean's thread on the topic is to use zinc supplements. there is few literature on this, but some guys in the longecity thread are doing both zinc and hair analyses and reported no worrying results.

 

I totally agree that it is more foolproof to abstain, but in such cased we should evaluate all possible toxicology from other plants (from example, cereals also can concentrate cadmium and other pollutants). That's probably not possible on a budget, so back to hair analysis as a evidence of undesired presence of pollutants in our body.

Edited by mccoy

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You might do better with a different fruit.  Blueberries or even strawberries would probably contribute more polyphenols than a caloric equivalent of bananas.  I've done something similar using cranberries and a little stevia for sweetness.  I also usually add coconut cream or dairy cream because I prefer the taste and texture and the macro nutrient profile better matches my goals.

 

Todd, your recipes definitely look more adventurous than my classic banana recipe. I'm not sure an all-strawberries or blueberries would taste great with cacao, but sure we may add some to the banana and give it that added nuance and polyphenols content. Whereas I totally second you on coconut and dairy cream, and I'm sure I'm going to use some of these but please read what follows.

 

Today I used a green banana and unprocessed cocoa. The Astringent tastes of both really complemented each other. It was so refreshingly and primordially pleasant  that I really remained astounded! I wanted to add some dairy cream but I liked better the primordial, fatless taste. I have a hint that I'm going to have no probs to reach and surpass that Kuna Indians Threshold...

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Where Chocolate Begins and Research Methods End: Understanding Kuna Cacao Consumption

Thoughts on this article?
 

"Contrary to a recent deluge of scientific and popular publications, the island-dwelling Kuna people of Ailigandi, San Blas Panama do not consume large amounts of locally derived cacao beverages. This paper introduces new research on the actual consumption of Theobroma cacao among the people of Ailigandi. The chocolate tree, Theobroma cacao, is of great cultural importance for Kuna people, and its fruits are used within multiple contexts as an irreplaceable element of Kuna identity and cultural life. However, cacao cultivation has become dramatically more difficult because of the numerous fungal pathogens that attack the tree. Despite the constraints this has placed on local cacao production, recent studies suggest that Kuna people consume large amounts of local cacao. This research evaluates the livelihood strategies and dietetic intake of the Kuna in a cross-cultural context. Findings suggest that recent studies may have misunderstood the local reality in their depictions of the Kuna people of Ailigandi as prolific consumers of locally derived cacao. Using a methodology that incorporates a local nomenclature, I found that the actual consumption of locally grown cacao among Kuna people is negligible, notwithstanding the claims of researchers whose work is largely funded by an industrial chocolate manufacturer."

Edited by tea

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tea,

thanks for posting that link. From my personal research, it was evident that Kuna islanders are no more drinking frequently siagwa, the traditional farmed cacao.

 

But the article from Barnes, although anthropologically and historically interesting, strikes me as a non sequitur. The author did not present any analyses of the colombian imported cacao consumed, nor gave numbers (average and standard deviations) of  presently consumed commercial cacao. It may well be that the imported Colombian cacao is not processed (undutched) hence rich in (-)-epicatechin hence the difference between the original whole cacao and the original drink, siagwa, and the modern drink is not significant inasmuch as the effects are concerned.

Besides, no alternative hypothesis to the Kunas exceptional resilience to CVD has been given. If it is not due to cacao, since it is not genetic (emigranst to mainland Panama exhibit the same hazard ratio of general population), what's the cause? Other foods? Other lifestyle factors?

 

In a few words, the original hypothesis: Kuna islanders still living in their original places exhibit lower CV mortality than general population because of significant cacao consumption, has not been falsified.  Cacao, even if imported, may still be responsible for such beneficial effect. At least, I hope so, LOL.

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LDL-C ranges from 50 to 70 mg/dL in native hunter-gatherers, healthy human neonates, free-living primates, and other wild mammals, who are notably free of atherosclerotic vascular disease.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22391248

 

Low blood pressure and lack of heart disease is fairly typical among indigenous hunter gatherer societies.

Edited by Gordo

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LDL-C ranges from 50 to 70 mg/dL in native hunter-gatherers, healthy human neonates, free-living primates, and other wild mammals, who are notably free of atherosclerotic vascular disease.

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22391248

 

Low blood pressure and lack of heart disease is fairly typical among indigenous hunter gatherer societies.

 

MMmmm..., yes, I get your point, although it's not clear whether the Kuna indians belong to that group. More like farmers, fishermen, traders.

 

 

 

The economy of Kuna Yala is based on agriculture, fishing and the manufacture of clothing with a long tradition of international trade. Plantains, coconuts, and fish form the core of the Kuna diet, supplemented with imported foods, a few domestic animals, and wild game. Coconuts, called ogob [iPA: okˑɔβ] in the Kuna language, and lobsters skungit (skuŋkˑit) are the most important export products. Migrant labor and the sale of molas provide other sources of income.
Edited by mccoy

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McCoy: Of course Gordo you are right  [about contamination]. There are specific strategies we can adopt though, in this case the best would probably be regular hair analyses.

 

 

For the hell of it  I got a cadmium hair analysis along with other tests.  Result:  .027 mcg/g  -- reference range .0 -0.25.  (I'm not sure how accurate/reliable a single test is.)

 

Does anyone have some up-to-date info on the least contaminated cacao sources (whatever the price)?

 

And is cocoa  powder (vs.cacao nibs, dark chocolate)  the best/most efficient cacao form for getting the desired polyphenols?

I've never tried nibs.

Edited by Sibiriak

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Thanks Mechanism.   Yes, that's an interesting thread.  I was just checking to see if anyone had  up-to-date info on cocoa products who might make some recommendations (and save me some research effort!).

Edited by Sibiriak

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Al Pater recently posted a study on  cocoa powder/dark chocolate and almonds:

 

Effects of Dark Chocolate and Almonds on Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Overweight and Obese Individuals: A Randomized Controlled‐Feeding Trial

 

http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/6/12/e005162

https://www.crsociety.org/topic/11801-als-papers-citations-and-possibly-links-and-excerpts-or-my-synopses/page-18

 

All participants were given isocaloric weight maintenance diets. Diets were similar, except for the presence or absence of treatment foods; 42.5 g of raw almonds (253 kcal/d),  18 g of natural cocoa powder and 43 g of dark chocolate (251.1 kcal/d), or both (504.1 kcal/d)
  • The combined consumption of almonds, dark chocolate, and cocoa resulted in a significant reduction in small dense low‐density lipoprotein particles that are recognized as a risk factor for coronary heart disease.
  • However, neither almonds nor dark chocolate and cocoa affected the markers of vascular health and oxidative stress.
  • These findings were specific to overweight and obese individuals aged 30 to 70 years.

  

 

A somewhat interesting  additional point:
 

....plasma total flavonoids and phenolic acids and plasma α‐tocopherol did not differ by treatment diet (P>0.05; Table 7).
In the present study, blood was collected after a 12‐hour fast, which may have accounted for the unchanged flavonoid concentrations after the CHOC and CHOC+ALD. These results may explain the null findings for oxidized LDL and urinary isoprostanes, biomarkers of oxidative stress in the present study.
Edited by Sibiriak

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I wonder what prompted the researchers to use the almonds together with chocolate...

I'm still following an high or very high cocoa diet, using mostly bitter undutched cocoa powder (not raw), about 20-30 grams daily average, sometimes more. It equals to thrice the amount of dutched coca, on the average.

I'm also a regular almond user.

Sure there is chemical evidence of a very rich presence of polymeric phenols and (-)-epicatechins in undutched and raw coca powder, much more than in most other foods. If we assume a reasonable correlations with such phenolic compounds and xenohormesis than the latter is granted, unless all literature on xenohormesis is wrong.

Cadmium remains a lurking concern and probably I'll have to search some hair analyses lab. I'm taking zinc supplements in the meanwhile.

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Mccoy:   I wonder what prompted the researchers to use the almonds together with chocolate...

 

Well, other combinations with almonds have been studied as well:

 

Statins and almonds to lower lipoproteins :rolleyes:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25670361

 

As Mechanism pointed out, the Almond Board very actively promotes their product via the funding of studies.  For example:

 

Dose Response of Almonds on Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors: Blood Lipids, Oxidized Low-Density Lipoproteins, Lipoprotein(a), Homocysteine, and Pulmonary Nitric Oxide  [2002]

http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/106/11/1327.long

 

And recently:

 

Inclusion of Almonds in a Cholesterol-Lowering Diet Improves Plasma HDL Subspecies and Cholesterol Efflux to Serum in Normal-Weight Individuals with Elevated LDL Cholesterol  [2017]

http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/106/11/1327.long

 

Science Daily:  "Almonds may help boost cholesterol clean-up crew":

 

"There's a lot of research out there that shows a diet that includes almonds lowers low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol, which is a major risk factor for heart disease," Kris-Etherton said. "But not as much was known about how almonds affect HDL cholesterol, which is considered good cholesterol and helps lower your risk of heart disease." 

 

The researchers wanted to see if almonds could not just increase the levels but also improve the function of HDL cholesterol, which works by gathering cholesterol from tissues, like the arteries, and helping to transport it out of the body.

 

"HDL is very small when it gets released into circulation," Kris-Etherton said. "It's like a garbage bag that slowly gets bigger and more spherical as it gathers cholesterol from cells and tissues before depositing them in the liver to be broken down."   Depending on how much cholesterol it has collected, HDL cholesterol is categorized into five "subpopulations," which range from the very small pre?-1 to the larger, more mature ?-1. The researchers hoped that eating almonds would result in more ?-1 particles, which would signal improved HDL function.

 

[...]The researchers found that compared to the control diet, the almond diet increased ?-1 HDL -- when the particles are at their largest size and most mature stage -- by 19 percent. Additionally, the almond diet improved HDL function by 6.4 percent, in participants of normal weight.

 

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170811134918.htm

 

Can you trust any industry-funded study? :unsure:   I'm skeptical.

 

Personally,  I think almonds probably are good for lipid profiles etc.,  but in any case, I like them, and I often eat walnuts and almonds along with a soy-cacao-cinnamon-honey shake.

Edited by Sibiriak

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Mccoy: I've calculated that 100 grams of unprocessed (undutched) cocoa powder on the average may contain 5% in weight polyphenols (5 g/100g).

 

Impact of Alkalization on the Antioxidant and Flavanol Content of Commercial Cocoa Powders

https://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/files_mf/miller2008.pdf  [PDF]

 

...cocoa powder is one of the richest dietary sources of flavanols (on a weight basis) identified thus far, exceeded only by a few food ingredients such as buckwheat hulls, sorghum, and cinnamon (35).

 

 

The highly-esteemed Dr. Greger prefers  alkali-processed “dutched” cocoa--because of the taste.  :rolleyes:

https://nutritionfacts.org/questions/is-regular-cocoa-powder-healthier-than-dutched/

 

 

I just ran out of my supply of organic cacao powder and may have to go Dutch  until I can replenish.

Edited by Sibiriak

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Sibiriak, the data in the Miller et al. 2008 article you posted average about 5.5 grams of total polyphenols (TP) in 100 g of undutched cocoa, so it's a real mine. I still can't believe that such a good tasting food may also exhibit such a wealth of phytochemicals.

 

Also, 3.5 grams/100 g are flavanols, those very protective phenolic compounds like epicatechin, catechin, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechine,  epigallocatechine gallate. This is also Miller et al. 2008 average in the article you posted for undutched powder.

 

Also, interestingly the article points out that the basic molecular groupings (N=1, 2, 3) are the ones which are better absorbed.

 

(-)-epicatechin is told to be maybe the most beneficial phytochemical in cocoa, in other articles like Andres Lacueva et al. 2008 the average in natural cocoa powder of this monomer  is 200 mg/100 g, whereas (+)-catechin, its isomeric monomer, is about 30% the concentration of EC.

Also, alkalinized cocoa powders analyzed average about 1/3 EC respect to undutched cocoas. So about 66% TP, including the priceless (-)-epicatechin is lost during alkalinization, a real waste. According to Miller et al, 2008, only 35% to about 10% remain afer dutching.

 

It is evident that the highest the TP and flavanols, the more we can ingest of them without overindulging in the cacao powder itself, which also contains some caffeine and theobromine and sometimes cadmium.

 

I too had some difficulties at the beginning with the astringent and bitterish taste of undutched cocoa, but as soon as I grasped what that meant, it hit me like a ton of bricks. My taste was instantaneously reversed. Now I hate the taste of bland dutched cocoa and require that cocoa is astringent and bitterish. The power of the mind.

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Many variables:

 

"According to ConsumerLab.com, dark chocolate seems to be a “cleaner” source of flavanols than cocoa powders. As Tod Cooperman, the company’s president, explained, flavanols are about four times more concentrated in dark chocolate than in cocoa powder—so to get an equal amount of flavanols, you’d consume about four times more cadmium from cocoa pow­der than from dark chocolate. On the other hand, when comparing chocolate bars and cocoa powders by serving sizes (about 40 grams and 5 grams, respectively), the bars had nearly as much cadmium, on average, as the powders."

 

But what about cocoa powder that's filtered through a paper coffee filter as in Dean's Witches Brew? The idea is that beneficial phenolic compounds pass through the filter. Yet, what impact, if any, does the filter have on cadmium and other heavy metals, considering that you are not actually consuming the cocoa powder itself? Shouldn't the heavy metals be left behind in the mass? If yes, then that's one way of getting the beneficial compounds without the harmful metals - that is a long chain of assumptions, of course.

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Personally,  I've decided to avoid the fat/sugar/calorie content of typical dark chocolate and go for a well-sourced organic cacao powder.   I feel the cadmium issue may be a bit overblown,  but I respect contrary opinions.   (My cadmium level tested very low.)   The filtered cacao idea is certainly an interesting one, though.

Edited by Sibiriak

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As Tod Cooperman, the company’s president, explained, flavanols are about four times more concentrated in dark chocolate than in cocoa powder—so to get an equal amount of flavanols, you’d consume about four times more cadmium from cocoa pow­der than from dark chocolate. 

 

The maths does not seem to add up. According to 1st grade maths, dark chocolate should contain a little less flavanols than the original cacao powder.

I'll post what I already wrote in the longecity forum. I compared a very dark lindt chocolate (info posted in the literature) to unprocessed cocoa powder (average values) according to Lacueva et al. The cocoa powder probably is not the same as Lindt's chocolate, since Lindt's is very probably dutched, judging from its not-astringent taste.

 

In the case discussed, with the same amount by weight, flavanols (EC+C) are 4.3 times more abundant in unprocessed cocoa powder than in lindt's excellence 90%.

 

The results, considering the lesser amount of flavanols present in unprocessed and processed powders, is compatible with the flavanols being a little less in chocolate with respect to the powder (10% less in 90% chocolate, 15% less in 85% chocolate and so on).

 

I really don't know what Ted Cooperman meant.

 

 

According to the following source:

 

Determination of Catechin and Epicatechin Content in Chocolates by High-Performance Liquid Chromatography

 

Epicat + catechins (flavanols) in Lindt Excellence 90% = 58 mg/100 gr

 

From the previously posted Andres-lacueva et al. study, 

 

Epicat + catechins in average unprocessed cocoa powder = 250 mg/100 gr

 

23 grams (about 4-5 tablespoons) of average unprocessed cocoa powder= 58 mg (Epicat + catechins) + 3 gr fats

100 grams of 90% Lindt excellence = 58 mg (Epicat + catechins) + 55 gr fats

 
Now, if at equal amounts of Epicat + catechins (58 mg) we just need all that additional (good tasting) fat (for example, we are strength athletes or american football players or long distance swimmers), then the chocolate is the best choice.
 
However, we might wish to avoid 52 grams of additional fat, mostly saturated, choosing as fat sources EVOO or nuts or avocados.
Then the cocoa powder is undoubtedly the best choice.

 

Edited by mccoy

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Re.: Dr. Greger's remarks about his personal preference for sweeter, alkalized cocoa and how it is easy to make up for the TP by eating more:

 

that's not so granted.

 

According to the Miller et al. article posted by Sibiriak, if Dr. Greger is able to source lightly alkalized coca, he will need twice the amount of undutched cocoa. But if he prefers heavily alkalized cocoa (like some very sweet, Lindt valuable powders) he may need ten time the amount.

 

With all the added baggage of caffeine, cadmium and saturated fats.

 

Not a reasonable proposition. Best to change one's own tastes.

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Mccoy,  I agree.

 

Btw, can you tell me what the claimed fat content is of the cocoa powder you are using?  I  ask because I was looking at some  brands of "organic raw cacao powder"  at iHerb.com (all the locally available powders I've found are alkalized),  and I noticed a wide variance in listed fat content.  Brands  of "raw cacao powder" that claim to be "cold pressed" have relatively more fat  listed.

 

One brand with  somewhat less fat  says:  "After being fermented and sun-dried, the beans are disinfected and dehusked. The nibs are pressed into a paste to remove the fat and concentrate the nutrients before finally being milled into a pure, richly flavored powder."   Another brand says  their "raw cacao beans are slowly fermented to bring out their rich flavor and then sun-dried, instead of roasted, to retain all of their valuable nutrients.

 

In any case,  a sharp distinction is drawn between cocoa powder (roasted) and "raw" cacao powder (unroasted).

 

Cacao powder contains more fiber and calories than cocoa powder since more of the nutrients from the whole bean are still intact. Cacao is an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, cholesterol-free saturated fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, natural carbohydrates, and protein that make it an excellent source of nutrients.

* * *

Cocoa powder is produced similarly to cacao except cocoa undergoes a higher temperature of heat during processing. Surprisingly, it still retains a large amount of antioxidants in the process and is still excellent for your heart, skin, blood pressure, and even your stress levels.

* * *

Cocoa powder is a rich source of fiber, has little fat, and has a bit of protein in it as well.

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/cacao-vs-cocoa-what-you-need-to-know/

 

Cocoa powders (roasted) apparently have  significantly less fat than "raw" cacao powders (not roasted).

 

Cocoa powders can be subdivided into alkalized (various degrees) vs. un-alkalized.

 

Cacao powders are sun-dried/cold-pressed  (is there any other  low-heat process?).  I'm not sure if there are any cocoa/cacao powders or extracts available that don't use fermentation during processing. 

 

The question arises: Is organic "raw" cacao powder (not roasted, more fat)  substantially superior to  organic un-alkalized cocoa powder (roasted, less fat) because of a  higher polyphenol content?

Edited by Sibiriak

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