NEW ORLEANS – Could chocolate exacerbate acne after all?
Dermatologists have long dismissed the idea that diet is related to acne, despite some patients’ insistence that eating chocolate, for example, seems to worsen their skin disease. But a new study has demonstrated that the consumption of pure chocolate does, in fact, exacerbate acne in a dose-dependent fashion.
Previous studies have failed to show a link between acne and the ingestion of chocolate. But these negative studies were conducted with chocolate candy, which contains sugar, milk, and other adulterants, according to Samantha Block. What’s different about the new study is that it was performed with unadulterated chocolate made of 100% cacao, Ms. Block explained at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.
She reported on 10 male subjects (aged 18-35 years) with one to four acne comedones and/or papules on the face, but no nodules, pustules, or cysts. The investigators sought subjects with this minimal degree of facial acne so that any changes during the study period would be easily detected. The participants were invited to eat up to 12 oz. of Ghirardelli unsweetened, 100%-cacao chocolate at a single sitting, or as close to it as they could come. They were instructed to consume their customary diet for the next week. They returned for facial acne lesion counts and photographs on days 4 and 7. None of the participants was on any prescription or OTC medication.
The mean total acneiform lesion count climbed from 2.7 at baseline to 13.4 on day 4 and to 18.2 on day 7.
“We saw a dose-dependent relationship. If you ate more chocolate, you developed more lesions, supporting the idea of a causal relationship,”
Summary: Cocoa was originally cultivated by ancient societies in Central and South America, where it was consumed as a fermented beverage for medicinal and ceremonial purposes. Cocoa and chocolate, its fermented byproduct, are rich in flavanols—potent antioxidants associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Two types of flavanols, called catechins and procyanidins, have been shown in experimental studies to reduce markers of inflammation and angiogenesis, two processes closely linked to cancer development. While more study is required, cocoa and chocolate have significant potential for chemoprevention as a dietary supplement.
Cocoa, the seed of the cocoa tree, is believed to have been cultivated over 3,000 years ago by native inhabitants of Central and Northern South America. These inhabitants prepared cocoa as a fermented beverage, similar to tea, which was used for medicinal and ceremonial purposes, and the beans themselves were used as a form of currency. Spanish explorers brought cocoa back to Spain in the early 1500s, and from there it spread to France, Italy, and eventually to Great Britain. In the middle of the 18th Century, chocolate manufacturing was introduced to Massachusetts using cocoa imported from the West Indies and Central America. Commercial chocolate become available in the mid-19th Century when a London company added sugar to chocolate liquor and cocoa butter.
Chocolate, the fermented byproduct from processed cocoa, contains high levels of bioactive flavanoids (polyphenols) that are formed during the fermentation process. Two flavanoids in particular, catechins and procyanidins, are highly concentrated in dark chocolate and cocoa powder. Observational studies indicate that catechins and procyanidins derived from green tea, red wine and soy may protect against a number of chronic diseases, notably cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Derek Lanter clearly remembers his first date with the “dark side.” In 2001 he was living in Berkeley, Calif., when Scharffen Berger, the company that reputedly makes America’s finest dark chocolate, was setting up its operation there. He and a friend decided to visit Scharffen Berger’s factory for a tour and tasting.
“Having worked with coffee as a buyer and roaster for Uncommon Grounds Coffee Co., I had experience processing coffee beans and evaluating the brew made from them, but that was the first time I saw cacao beans being roasted, ground and manufactured into chocolate,” Lanter recalled.
“Scharffen Berger was using beans from Colombia, Madagascar, Ecuador, Ghana and Indonesia. We learned about the equipment and process, and tasted chocolate at different stages and in different forms, from the roasted nib to pure cacao liquor; sweet milk chocolate; and semisweet, 62 percent; bittersweet, 70 percent; and extra-dark, 85 percent chocolate. It was such a mind-opening experience!”
Today, Lanter tastes chocolate nearly every day as the sales and marketing manager for Waialua Estate, a subsidiary of Dole Food Co. that grows 20 acres of cacao and 155 acres of coffee on Oahu’s North Shore. According to Lanter, chocolate made from locally grown cacao is being favorably compared with world-renowned brands such as Amano, Amedei, Guittard and Michel Cluizel.
Cocoa prices at the farm gate in Ivory Coast are falling sharply and farmers are fast running out of money, with potentially damaging consequences for the cocoa mid-crop, according to farmers.
Farmers said yesterday that they were stocking their cocoa beans in the hope they could preserve them long enough to sell when the political crisis was over, but that there was little enthusiasm for tending to the April to September mid-crop.
A one-month cocoa export ban imposed by presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara is meant to starve his rival Laurent Gbagbo of funds, and is backed by Western powers and African leaders who see Ouattara as president-elect, after a November 28 poll Gbagbo refuses to concede. Buying has drastically dropped.
Ouattara has indicated he might extend it next week, but even if he does not, EU sanctions on the pro-Gbagbo ports mean there are few ships to deliver it.
In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said they were not able to pay their workers to maintain their farms and the mid-crop would therefore fall.
“We are in a crucial phase where we need to care for, clean and treat the cocoa trees. But we don’t have any money to pay workers to do this or buy agri-chemicals,” said farmer Innocent Zamble, who farms in Meagui.
TESTIMONY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TWENTY-SIXTH LEGISLATURE, 2011 ON THE FOLLOWING MEASURE:
H.B. NO. 1598, RELATING TO THE CACAO INDUSTRY.
BEFORE THE: HOUSE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE
Friday, February 11, 2011
State Capitol, Room 312
TIME: 9 : 00 a. m.
TESTIFIER(S): David M. Louie, Attorney General, or Damien A. Elefante, Deputy Attorney
General Chair Tsuji and Members of the Committee:
The Department of the Attorney General has the following comments on this bill. If enacted this bill may be challenged as violating the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.
This bill creates a general excise tax exemption to favor products that are raised or produced exclusively in the State, specifically, domestically produced or processed cacao. “No State, consistent with the Commerce Clause, may ‘impose a tax which discriminates against interstate commerce . . . by providing a direct commercial advantage to local business.'” Bacchus Imports, Ltd. v. Dias, 468 U.S. 263, 268 (1984), citing Boston Stock Exchange v. State Tax Comm’n, 429 U.S. 318, 329 (1977) .
In Bacchus, the United States Supreme Court found that an exemption similar to the exemption proposed in this bill violated the Commerce Clause. At issue in Bacchus was the Hawaii liquor tax, which was originally enacted in 1939 to defray the costs of police and other governmental services. Because the Legislature sought to encourage development of the Hawaiian liquor industry, it enacted an exemption from the liquor tax for okolehao (a brandy distilled from the root of the ti plant, an indigenous shrub of Hawaii) and for certain fruit wine manufactured in Hawaii. The united States Supreme Court concluded that the exemption violated the Commerce Clause because the exemption had both the purpose and effect of discriminating in favor of local products. The general excise tax exemption for local agricultural products, as created by this bill, appears to have similar purpose and effect as the exemption that violated the Commerce Clause in Bacchus.
We recommend that this bill be held.
By Loucoumane Coulibaly
ABIDJAN, Feb 10 (Reuters) – A halt to cocoa-buying in Ivory Coast is leaving beans to rot in farm warehouses, while smuggling through Ghana intensifies and some growers switch to other crops, farmers said on Thursday.
Economic sanctions, a cocoa export ban and a liquidity shortage since incumbent Laurent Gbagbo seized the central bank’s local branch has left the cocoa industry in chaos in the world’s largest grower as beans pile up in farms or are smuggled out.
Alassane Ouattara, who beat Gbagbo in a Nov. 28 presidential poll, according to U.N.-certified electoral commission results that Gbagbo refused to concede, last week called for a one-month cocoa registration ban to starve his rival of tax revenues.
Cocoa exporters, fearing sanctions by Western powers that recognise Ouattara’s win, have played ball.
In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers and one cooperative manager said in interviews they no buyers were taking their beans last week and they feared the poorly dried beans stashed in their warehouses would rot. “Nothing’s moving, everything’s stopped,” said farmer Innocent Zamble, who runs a farm in the Soubre town of Meagui.
“Our stores are stuffed with beans and there’s no more space to stock them. We fear the quality is going to perish because we don’t have the capacity to stock big quantities long term.”
The summer of 2010 saw cocoa prices shoot up, much to bears’ skepticism. They said there was no fundamental reason for the move: It was just a hedge fund manipulation.
On that notion, coca prices fell from a 33-year high at over $3,400 a metric ton down to about $2,600 in September. But the bearish view proved wrong in the end.
Any intelligent observer can see the big problems brewing in the Ivory Coast. Accounting for 40% of global supplies, the country is the world’s largest coca bean producer.
That key chocolate ingredient factors in heavily to the Ivorian economy. Cocoa is its biggest source of revenue, with sweet bean sales valued at $45 billion annually.
But the country’s cocoa trees have long-term problems, not to mention major political problems. And the latter has pushed coca prices back up above $3,300 once again.
Never Mix Chocolate and Politics… at Least not in the Ivory Coast
On November 28, 2010, the Ivory Coast elected a new leader, Alassane Ouattara. But while the United Nations certifies that victory, sitting president Laurent Gbagbo refuses to leave … and he has the full support of the military.
Countries around the globe are imposing sanctions on the Ivory Coast, but Ouattara has taken that idea a step further. He has called for a 1-month ban on cocoa exports and most other nations – including the U.S. – have signed onboard.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their partners have announced the preliminary release of the sequenced genome of the cacao tree, an achievement that will help sustain the supply of high-quality cocoa to the $17 billion U.S. chocolate industry and protect the livelihoods of small farmers around the world by speeding up development, through traditional breeding techniques, of trees better equipped to resist the droughts, diseases and pests that threaten this vital agricultural crop.
The effort is the result of a partnership between USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS); Mars, Inc., of McLean, Va., one of the world’s largest manufacturers of chocolate-related products; scientists at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown , N.Y.; and researchers from the Clemson University Genomics Institute, the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Washington State University, Indiana University, the National Center for Genome Resources, and PIPRA (Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture) at the University of California-Davis.
Team leaders from USDA included molecular biologist David Kuhn and geneticist Raymond Schnell, both at the ARS Subtropical Horticulture Research Station in Miami, Fla., and ARS computational biologist Brian Scheffler at the Jamie Whitten Delta States Research Center in Stoneville, Miss. ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of USDA. This research supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security, and USDA’s commitment to agricultural sustainability.