Chocolate, lovely chocolate! But did you know that if you eat the right kind of chocolate it can actually help relieve your gout?
Chocolate and Gout
Chocolate is usually a brown sweet food prepared from roasted and ground Theobroma cacao seeds, and often flavored with vanilla. It’s a mixture of cocoa butter, cocoa paste and sugar.
Chocolate contains carbohydrates, fats, vegetable proteins, minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron in trace amounts, and vitamins A1, B1, B2, D, and E. It’s an exceptionally nutritional and high energy food.
Benefits of Dark Chocolate for Gout
Chocolate offers a number of health benefits because it’s loaded with high nutritional value. It contains a large amount of plant based nutrients known as flavonoids which are powerful antioxidants.
It’s very rich in classes of flavonoids called Epicatechin, Catechins, Proanthocyanidins and Flanvan-3ols, and so is one of the highest sources of antioxidants in all of our foods.
These are very effective at fighting the symptoms of gout and in lowering blood pressure by improving blood circulation which helps dissolve and process uric acid.
Chocolate also prevents chronic inflammation because of its interaction with inflammatory mediators in your body called ‘leukotrienes’; an important step in lasting gout relief.
Because of its antioxidant qualities, chocolate helps to minimize inflammation from an active gout attack by interrupting the inflammatory response cycle. The polyphenols and flavonoids in chocolate act as COX2 inhibitors just the way NSAIDs work.
Blocking the COX2 enzymes enhances the immune system, reduces pain in the joints, and stops the production of free radicals.
Flavonoids also play a crucial role in significantly reducing C-Reactive Protein (CRP) levels. CRP is an inflammation indicator and high levels of CRP mean that there is inflammation in the body.
Chocolate also eliminates free radicals. During a gout attack, a lot of these harmful free radicals are produced, and the antioxidant qualities of chocolate help to eliminate them from the body.
The antioxidant qualities of chocolate also improve the functioning and health of the kidneys which are essential in eliminating uric acid and preventing gout attacks.
So chocolate and gout can form a surprising and winning combination.
And this is backed by studies…
1. Studies by The Foundation for Flavonoid Research have shown that the flavonoids in cocoa powder and dark chocolate help reduce the inflammatory symptoms of gout.
2. Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco found that consuming a 1.6 ounce bar of dark chocolate daily helped reduce inflammation because the antioxidants and phytochemicals in cocoa decrease the activity of COX-2 enzyme.
3. A peer- reviewed study published in Chemistry Central Journal found that dark chocolate, and cocoa powder in particular, is very rich in disease fighting antioxidants, and is very helpful in combating gout and many other diseases.
4. A study conducted by the University of California at Davis indicated that intake of Epicatechin rich chocolate lead to 36% higher levels of antioxidants in the blood and 40% lower levels of free radicals.
5. A study by the University of Barcelona proved that the Epicatechins absorbed from chocolate can be measured in urine, and that the Epicatechin metabolites enhanced the level of antioxidants in urine.
6. Another study by The Hershey Center for Health and Nutrition established that that the type of chocolate product affects the level of Flavonoids, Flavanol and Procyanidin content in the product.
Baking chocolate and pure cocoa powder were confirmed to have the highest concentrations and chocolate syrup as having the least.
How to Select Healthy Chocolate
The Right Amount of Chocolate to Eat
Doctors recommend very small amounts of dark chocolate; the amount to eat varying among individuals.
According to one European study, 6.7 grams of dark chocolate per day is an ideal protective against inflammation. That’s around 50 grams a week – half a bar?
And, sorry to say this, but all these great benefits only apply to DARK chocolate NOT MILK.
There are several reasons for this, but two of the main reasons are that the benefits derive from the cocoa bean itself and dark chocolate, by its very nature, contains two or three times, or even more, cocoa than milk chocolate. And milk interferes with the absorption of polyphenols in the body.
However, it is to be noted that excessive consumption of any chocolate can contribute to weight gain, and so worsen your gout situation, since we know that being overweight puts you at one of the highest risks of gout.
In addition, cocoa powder is high in oxalates which increases the risk of oxalate kidney stones, especially if your doctor has told you you’re in the high risk category for kidney stones. If you’re in this group you should avoid it altogether.
So only take dark chocolate in moderation, unless you’re in that high risk group for kidney stones, in which case you’re best to avoid it.