What Is Lavado Cocoa?

A cocoa bean. Source of lavado cocoa.
Image by Elias Shariff Falla Mardini from Pixabay

Lavado cocoa is not that well known but amongst cocoa addicts it is probably something of a hero in the chocolate world.

Lavado cocoa is an interesting type of ingredient. It is an unfermented, lightly processed cocoa. Because of the low degree of processing, it is generally richer in polyphenols especially flavonols than ordinary chocolate. Flavonols are found in all sorts of fruit and vegetables. Onions are a great source but so is cocoa.

A lot of cocoa is ‘Dutched’ meaning it has been treated with alkali to reduce the bitterness. In so doing that flavonol content is severely depleted but it may also be spoiling some of the health benefits due to these compounds found in cocoa.

Lavado Cocoa And Alzheimer’s Disease

Some researchers are especially interested in this cocoa because it was associated with an improvement in those with Alzheimer’s Disease

First and foremost, there is still plenty of research needed to show that Lavado cocoa and cocoa in general has any major benefit in humans in reducing the effects of Alzheimer’s but the evidence and the interest is continually growing.

The one study of real interest was conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai which found that lavado cocoa could be implicated in reducing damage to nerves in Alzheimer’s sufferers well before they developed any symptoms.

In their study, they used genetically engineered mice which had symptoms of Alzheimer’s. They tested the idea that lavado cocoa extract could prevent the formation of the plaque protein,  β-amyloid- (Aβ) which is implicated in disrupting nerve impulses at the nerve synapse. The plaques are sticky clumps which appear to affect the synapse membranes in a way which blocks neural transmission and invites an immune response as well as being implicated in damaging immune and inflammation responses.

The researchers were interested in the fact that cognitive decline begins before any symptoms of Alzheimer’s truly reveals itself. It seems that giving the mice lavado cocoa more effectively reduced the formation of the Ab oligomers and even reversed the damage of the synapses when compared to other forms of chocolate.

The author Dr. Pasinetti stated:

“There have been some inconsistencies in medical literature regarding the potential benefit of cocoa polyphenols on cognitive function. Our finding of protection against synaptic deficits by Lavado cocoa extract, but not Dutched cocoa extract, strongly suggests that polyphenols are the active component that rescue synaptic transmission, since much of the polyphenol content is lost by the high alkalinity in the Dutching process.”

It would be feasible if more research was conducted to show whether this type of chocolate might be used as a supplement. In the EU, cocoa flavonols already have a health claim.

Reference

Wang J, Varghese M, Ono K, Yamada M, Levine S, Tzavaras N, Gong B, Hurst WJ, Blitzer RD, Pasinetti GM. Cocoa Extracts Reduce Oligomerization of Amyloid-β: Implications for Cognitive Improvement in Alzheimer’s DiseaseJ Alzheimers Dis, June 2014 DOI: 10.3233/JAD-132231

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