There’s a place where heart disease barely exists. You can find it off the coast of Panama. It’s home to the Kuna people…and they have some of the lowest rates of heart disease in the world.
The Kuna people eat a high sodium diet just like Americans…but they don’t develop high blood pressure as they age. It’s a mystery that’s puzzled scientists for decades.
Researchers first thought these people might have a unique genetic makeup that gives them such strong hearts. However emerging research suggests their heart health comes from one specific ingredient that they consume each day.
Dr. Oscar Franco has just put that ingredient to the test. He leads epidemiology research at England’s prestigious University of Cambridge. In 2009 the European Society of Cardiology awarded him for his scientific contribution to heart disease prevention. And his work has appeared in over 50 publications.
He’s studied this ingredient and has just published research showing it significantly improves heart health.
“The highest levels of consumption (are) associated with a 37 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29 percent reduction in stroke,” he says.
Dr. Franco recently presented his research in Paris. And his findings were published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) only a short time ago.
It’s the latest research that shows this ingredient improves cardiovascular fitness. Now plenty of credible experts are reviewing his findings. They’re studying the Kuna mystery…and are convinced that it’s this single ingredient that helps them virtually eliminate heart disease.
“It is the only thing they drink…from when they are weaned to the day they die,” says Harvard Medical School researcher Dr. Norman Hollenberg. “(It) could potentially get rid of the most common disease in the western world.”
The Kuna Connection
Dr. Franco and his team were looking for a natural way to reduce heart disease. So they decided to put the Kuna connection to the test.
They analyzed seven studies, involving 114,000 people. Some of them had heart disease and some of them didn’t. They compared two groups: those with the highest consumption of the secret ingredient; and those who consumed the least.
They found people who took the highest amount of the secret ingredient had almost a 40 percent reduction in heart disease.
But the positive news doesn’t end there.
Another recent study was conducted by researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. They analyzed 10 clinical trials that involved 320 people taking the secret ingredient.
At the end of the review they found that the ingredient lowered levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol by an average of 5.9 milligrams per deciliter of blood.
Researchers say this might be because the ingredient contains stearic acid… and they point to studies that show stearic acid lowers LDL cholesterol.
The Kuna Advantage
So just what is the secret ingredient?
A modified version of it is already a popular sweet treat in North America and Europe. But because it’s so processed it doesn’t have the same heart healthy benefits.
What the Kuna people drink is slightly different. That’s because it’s pure cocoa. In fact, they drink up to 40 cups of naturally-made hot cocoa per week…and their rates of heart disease and stroke are less than 10 percent.
So what makes cocoa good for your heart? Researchers believe it contains a nutrient called epicatechin. That’s a flavonoid that works by elevating levels of nitric oxide in the blood. It helps blood vessels relax and improves blood flow. And obviously better circulation is beneficial to your heart.or
More and more experts are coming to believe in the heart-healthy power of cocoa.
Chris Kilham is a “medicine hunter” who has traveled to over 20 countries in search of botanical treatments. He’s appeared on over 1,500 radio programs and is the author of 14 books.
In a recent interview, he said pure cocoa is the most powerful “supplement” available.
Kilham went on an expedition to study the Kuna people. He got an up close look at their secret.
“What got me turned onto the Kuna in the first place was 20 years of Harvard University studies,” says Kilham. Those studies show “that the Kuna have among the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease in the world… even though they’re poor (and) have no access to medicine.”
He says the Kuna secret is becoming more and more obvious.
“They have this remarkably low incident of heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure,” says Kilham, “and they consume four to five cups of cocoa every day.”
Kilham is convinced that pure cocoa can improve cardiovascular health.
“There is no super-fruit that is more super than cocoa,” says Kilham. “There is no food that is more nutritious. Cocoa is the king of all foods in terms of its antioxidant activity (and) its protective powers.”
The New “Super Supplement”
Now this doesn’t mean you should be running to the store to fill up your cart with chocolate. Pure cocoa is different from processed chocolate. Flavonols give cocoa a strong pungent taste…which is why it’s processed to make candy bars and other sweet products. But the more it’s processed, the more it loses its protective properties.
Instead, look for 100 percent pure unsweetened cocoa or cocao. Once you have that you can make all-natural hot cocoa like the Kuna do.
First, they boil a pot of water and add bananas. Next, they cook it until the bananas break in pieces. Then they add a load of ground cocoa beans. After that they cook it for a long time. And finally they strain it.
The flavor is already sweet so there’s no need to add sugar or milk. Both would negate the health benefits of the drink anyway.
Making This “Super Supplement” Even More Healthy
The only problem with this recipe is that bananas have a high glycemic index (GI). Foods with a high GI can spike your blood sugar and cause insulin surges. That in turn can lead to increased fat production.
A better option is to make your own drink. Start by making homemade almond milk. Soak the almonds overnight. Get rid of the water the next day. Then dip them into boiling water and peel away the skins. Use one cup of almonds for every four cups of water.
Throw the almond-water mix into a blender. Then add unsweetened raw cocoa, strawberries, and ice. Blend it up and you have your own all-natural, heart-healthy cocoa almond milk and berry smoothie. Stevia or agave nectar can also be added for sweetening.
Cocoa will be an interesting “supplement” to watch in the future. Kilham believes an “era of supplementation” is on the horizon. He draws the comparison to green tea, which is now available in all kinds of formulations. So you may start seeing cocoa extracts on the market soon.
We’ll continue to follow the research closely and update you on any new studies.
To your best health,
Managing Editor, NHD “Health Watch”