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2007-8-28 18:18:40

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may boost one's antioxidant defenses, according to a new Spanish study, adding to a growing body of evidence that a cocoa-rich diet is beneficial to man's health.

The study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found young Wistar rats on cocoa-enriched diets have high activity of the antioxidant enzymes in the body's defense system.

Emma Ramiro-Puig from the University of Barcelona and colleagues fed rats a diet with cocoa equal to 4 or 10 percent of the total diet and measured antioxidant activity in the plasma and certain tissues including the liver and lymphoid organs.

The rats on the special diets had their total antioxidant capacity increased in all the body tissues, particularly in the thymus where certain hormones are produced to stimulate cells used in an immune response.

The increase in the activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase, enzymes found in the thymus, was dose-dependent, the high dose yielding a high increase, according to the study.

SOD is produced endogenously and believed to be more powerful than antioxidant vitamins. It activates the production of antioxidant enzymes including catalase and glutathione peroxidase.

The researchers also found an increase in the percentage of thymocytes in advanced development stage, meaning that the cocoa diet promoted the body immune defenses.

Source: E. Ramiro-Puig, M Urpi-Sarda, F.J. Perez-Cano, A. Franch, C. Castellote, C. Anders-Lacueva, M. Izquierdo-Pulido, and M. Castell, 2007, "Cocoa-Enriched Diet Enhances Antioxidant Enzyme Activity and Modulates Lymphocyte Composition in Thymus from Young Rats", Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Volume 55, Number 16, Pages 6431-6438.


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