Banana and Cocoa Health Benefits
Bananas are one of the healthiest foods available, they contain potassium, which can help control blood pressure, plus they’re a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6 and of fibre. Dietary fibre is important for loads of reasons, it helps to slow the uptake of sugars into the blood stream meaning that the energy we get from high-fibre, high-carb foods like sweet fruits is released slowly, this means no rush and crash, just sustained energy and focus.
Fibre is also incredibly important for gut health - which is just starting to get the attention it deserves. An unhealthy gut has been linked to just about all of the most damaging health and well-being issues you can imagine, everything from skin conditions, to immune disorders, from cancers to depression.¹
Bananas also contain useful amounts of important minerals including calcium and magnesium. Magnesium is little appreciated but crucial, it’s contained in every cell in the body and involved as a co-factor in literally hundreds of chemical reactions that are essential to proper bodily function.²
The health benefits offered by cocoa are well recognised and it’s one of the few ingredients truly worthy of the title ‘Superfood’. Cocoa contains significant quantities of a wide range of polyphenols which are thought to promote better blood vessel function, and consumption of cocoa has been linked to reduced stroke and cardiovascular risks.³,⁴
Researchers have also studied its impact on the brain, finding that the polyphenols contained in cocoa tend to accumulate in areas associated with memory and learning, which has in turn been linked to improved cognitive function.⁵
Another study, focussing on people suffering with Peripheral Artery Disease, found that consumption of cocoa led to improved circulation and an increase in maximum walking distance of between 11% and 15%. But, also that these effects were not observed if cocao was consumed in the form of milk chocolate ⁶ - it's thought that the fats in milk bind to the polyphenols, blocking their absorption. For maximum benefit cocoa should be consumed regularly, and ideally as part of a low-dairy or dairy-free diet.
Increased intake of cocoa has also been linked to significantly reduced death rates from many of the most causes of mortality. One particularly interesting study from 2007 carried out statistical analysis of long-term health prospects among the Kuna people who live almost entirely on the Panamanian island of San Blas, and whose staple beverage is cocoa. The study found that among the Kona, rates of cardio-vascular diseases, cancers and of diabetes were significantly below the country-wide average an concluded that increased consumption of cocoa was the cause.⁷
¹ Quigley, E. Gut Bacteria in Health and Disease. Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 9/13
²De Baaij, J Magnesium in Man. Physiological Review 1/2014
³ ex. Katz DL, et al. Cocoa and chocolate in human health and disease. Antioxid Redox Signal 2011; 15(10): 2779-811.
⁴ Valussi, M et al, C Cacao as a Globalised Functional Food, The Open Agricultural Journal Vol 13, 2019
⁵ Berk L et al. Dark Chocolate Increases Acute and Chronic EEG Power Spectral Density response of Gamma Frequency for Brain Health FASEB Journal April 2018
⁶ Lofredo L et al. Dark Chocolate Acutely Improves Walking Autonomy in Patients with Peripheral Artery Disease Journal of American Heart Association July 2014
⁷ Bayard, V. Does Flavinol Intake Influence Mortality from Nitric Oxide-dependent Processes? International Journal of Medical Sciences, 1/2007