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Chocolate Hazelnut Porridge

March 23, 2010 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

Patterns are vital pieces of information in the field of preventive health care. Researchers are constantly on the look-out for trends that can be applied in the prevention of just about every medical condition known to man. Even maladies that have a strong genetic component are of interest because certain lifestyle choices can activate or de-activate genes that are associated with such illnesses. When it comes to lifestyle factors, dietary influences have received the lion’s share of scientific interest. The interplay between diet and gene expression has even been given a name: nutrigenomics.

When I hear or read the words nutrition or nutrigenomics, I’m often reminded of the first three letters of both words: N-U-T. Nuts have arguably become the most widely acclaimed health foods of the past few decades. They’re embraced by both conventional and holistic physicians. Low-carbers and vegetarians likewise agree on their inherent value. Even advocates of low-fat, low calorie diets tend to sponsor their use in moderation. It’s exceedingly rare to find an entire class of food that unites such disparate groups in the health care universe.

In recent years I’ve personally moved away from consuming grains and stepped up my intake of nuts and seeds as a replacement. In general, I think a similar shift would serve many people well. But it’s always been a struggle to offer reasonable alternatives to many of the grain-based foods that have become deeply held fixtures in the modern diet. Today I’m going to provide a different take on the traditional hot cereal breakfast. You won’t find any brown sugar, honey, oats or wheat bran in this recipe. Instead you’ll notice a much improved proportion of healthy fats and protein. Much like the original version, this reinvention is also rich in fiber. However, the vast majority of carbohydrates and sugar have been left behind in the past where I think they belong.

Chocolate Hazelnut Porridge

1/4 cup hazelnut flour/meal

1 packet of Jay Robb Chocolate Rice Protein

3-4 oz of hot water

1 packet of stevia

.5 oz of 100% cocoa bar (unsweetened)

salt or salt-substitute to taste

Nutritional Facts: Calories: 350. Protein: 30 grams. Fat: 25 grams. Carbohydrates: 12 grams (7 grams of which are fiber) = 5 grams of “Effective Carbohydrates”

Directions: The preparation couldn’t be simpler. First chop the 100% pure cocoa bar into fine slivers. Combine the cocoa with the dry ingredients in a bowl and pour hot water on top. Stir until well blended and taste. Adjust the consistency (by adding water) and sweetener, if necessary, and enjoy.

Cocoa Epicatechins Benefit the Cardiovascular System
Source: Circulation. 2009;119:1433-1441 (link)

My decision to use hazelnut meal in this recipe goes beyond its delicious marriage with dark chocolate. Over the past several years, a number of studies have identified hazelnuts as potentially cardioprotective. This hypothesis was strengthened by a trial published in February 2010. The Turkish study in question evaluated the effects of a hazelnut-enriched diet over a 4 week period. The results of the trial were quite extraordinary:

  • There was a meaningful delay in cholesterol oxidation detected after 15 and 30 days of hazelnut consumption.
  • This antioxidant effect may be the result of greater concentrations of Vitamin E found in the participants’ LDL cholesterol during the intervention.
  • LDL (“bad”) and total cholesterol were significantly reduced over the study period.
  • A decline in the undesirable apolipoprotein B and an elevation in the beneficial apolipoprotein A-I were reported.
  • A welcome shift also occurred in the ratio of LDL cholesterol subfractions (large/small LDL).

The authors of the trial concluded that the cardioprotective effects of hazelnuts appear to extend far beyond their impact on cholesterol levels alone. They were particularly impressed by the antioxidant components of the nuts which may decrease the “atherogenic tendency of LDL” cholesterol. Other recent investigations tend to support these current findings both with respect to positive changes in cardiovascular risk markers and the previously mentioned antioxidant properties contained in the kernel and skin of hazelnuts. (1,2,3,4,5)

I tried to formulate this recipe in such a way so as to reach the largest possible demographic without sacrificing nutrient density. My first goal was to construct an ingredient list that would be suitable for omnivores and vegans alike. I wanted to ensure an optimal ratio of fat-to-protein while at the same time placing an emphasis on fiber content. The addition of pure cocoa into the mix not only satisfies taste buds but also contributes a good deal of powerful antioxidant phytochemicals. The sum total of these components yields a breakfast that may very well support improved cardiovascular + digestive health and could theoretically address blood sugar control and weight loss objectives as well. That’s my idea of what some experts call a “functional food”.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!

JP

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9 Comments & Updates to “Chocolate Hazelnut Porridge”

  1. Mike Says:

    Thanks for the info. Nuts and seeds have great health benefits, but I wasn’t aware how beneficial hazelnuts are when it comes to healthy cholesterol balance. Thanks again!

  2. JP Says:

    My pleasure, Mike. Glad you enjoyed it. :)

    Be well!

    JP

  3. Andre Nievo Says:

    Thank you for providing a pdf file. I will download it.

  4. Oct Says:

    I wonder if this is as delicious as Nutella too. :) Thanks for all of the research and great information JP.

  5. JP Says:

    Oct,

    That’s a tall order. But I hope you’ll think so. :)

    I know it’s good for you and I think it’s borderline delicious. Not a bad bargain.

    Thank you for your kind words and support. Much appreciated!

    Be well!

    JP

  6. Jake Rhodes Says:

    Over here in England we have a hazelnut chocolate spread called Nutella which is really good. You can put it in porridge, on toast, or anything else you want.

  7. JP Says:

    Jake,

    We have that here in the US as well. However it’s loaded with sugar. My recipe has no added sugar and is nutrient rich. I can’t claim it’s quite as tasty as Nutella but it comes close! :)

    Be well!

    JP

  8. JP Says:

    Update: Enjoying dark chocolate judiciously can improve the health of overweight individuals …

    http://www.jnutbio.com/article/S0955-2863%2815%2900032-7/abstract

    Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry – February 25, 2015

    Natural cocoa consumption: Potential to reduce atherogenic factors?

    Short-term consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa has been demonstrated to improve various facets of vascular health. The purpose of the present study was to determine the effect of 4 weeks of natural cocoa consumption on selected cardiovascular disease (CVD) biomarkers in young (19–35 years) women of differing body mass indices (BMI; normal, overweight or obese). Subjects (n=24) consumed a natural cocoa-containing product (12.7 g natural cocoa, 148 kcal/serving) or an isocaloric cocoa-free placebo daily for 4 weeks in a random, double-blind manner with a 2-week washout period between treatment arms. Fasted (>8-h) blood samples were collected before and after each 4-week period. Serum was analyzed to determine lipid profile (chemistry analyzer) and CVD biomarkers (26 biomarkers). EDTA-treated blood was used to assess monocytes (CD14, CD16, v11b and CD62L), while citrate-treated blood was used to measure changes in endothelial microparticles (EMPs; CD42a−/45−/144+) by flow cytometry. Natural cocoa consumption resulted in a significant decrease in haptoglobin (P=.034), EMP concentration (P=.017) and monocyte CD62L (P=.047) in obese compared to overweight and normal-weight subjects. Natural cocoa consumption regardless of BMI group was associated with an 18% increase in high-density lipoprotein (P=.020) and a 60% decrease in EMPs (P=.047). Also, obese subjects experienced a 21% decrease in haptoglobin (P=.034) and a 24% decrease in monocyte CD62L expression in (P=.047) following 4 weeks of natural cocoa consumption. Collectively, these findings indicate that acute natural cocoa consumption was associated with decreased obesity-related disease risk. More research is needed to assess the stability of the observed short-term changes.

    Be well!

    JP

  9. JP Says:

    Updated 1/13/16:

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00394-015-1150-4

    Eur J Nutr. 2016 Jan 8.

    Do dry roasting, lightly salting nuts affect their cardioprotective properties and acceptability?

    PURPOSE: Previous studies have reported improvements in cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors with the consumption of raw nuts. However, around one-third of nuts consumed are roasted and salted. Thus, it is important to determine whether roasting and salting nuts affect the health benefits observed with raw nuts. This study aimed to compare the effects of consuming two different forms of hazelnuts on cardiovascular risk factors and acceptance.

    METHODS: Using a randomised crossover design, 72 participants were asked to consume 30 g/day of either raw or dry roasted, lightly salted hazelnuts for 28 days each. CVD risk factors were measured at the beginning and end of each treatment period. “Desire to consume” and “overall liking” for both forms of hazelnuts were assessed daily using a 150-mm visual analogue scale.

    RESULTS: Body composition, blood pressure, plasma total and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, apolipoprotein A1 and B100, glucose and α-tocopherol concentrations did not differ between forms of hazelnuts (all P ≥ 0.054). High-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol (P = 0.037) and triacylglycerol (P < 0.001) concentrations were significantly lower following the consumption of dry roasted, lightly salted hazelnuts when compared to the raw hazelnuts. Compared with baseline, consuming both forms of hazelnuts significantly improved HDL-cholesterol and apolipoprotein A1 concentrations, total-C/HDL-C ratio, and systolic blood pressure without significantly changing body composition. Acceptance ratings did not differ between forms of hazelnuts and remained high throughout the study.

    CONCLUSION: Dry roasting and lightly salting nuts do not appear to negate the cardioprotective effects observed with raw nut consumption, and both forms of nuts are resistant to monotony. Public health messages could be extended to include dry roasted and lightly salted nuts as part of a heart healthy diet.

    Be well!

    JP

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