Unprocessed cocoa is reported to have huge health benefits which could run parallel to that of penicillin or anesthesia. This was disclosed by Norman Hollenberg, professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Professor Hollenberg suggests that Epicatechin which is found in high levels in unrefined cocoa has the potential to combat the four major and common diseases of the western world viz. stroke, heart ailments, cancer and diabetes. He also feels that Epicatechin should be considered as a vitamin.
Daniel Fabricant, vice-president at the Natural Products Association, felt that the role of Epicatechin in bringing down the rates of the four major diseases should be investigated further. He also opined that the deficiency of Epicatechin could be the reason for people to be affected with these diseases.
Epicatechin is a flavanol which is also found in tea, wine, chocolate, some fruits and vegetables. Generally they are removed from commercial cocoa as they are bitter in taste. Their health giving properties are masked when they are combined with milk and sugar. Flavanol retained in bitter chocolates, is said to improve blood supply to the brain and increase short term memory.