Tag Archives: chocolate

Why chocolate is good for your gut – MNT

I am a chocolate lover. I have some every day of my life. Granted, what I consume are small quantities which I devour slowly and let simply melt in my mouth. I also know that dark chocolate has more benefits than the sweet milk chocolate of my childhood. Herewith, Medical News Today‘s take on the dark delight.

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Chocolate lovers, rejoice; the sweet treat is not only delicious, but studies show that it can also promote friendly bacteria and reduce inflammation in our guts. But first, some background: trillions of bacteria live in our guts. They contribute to our immune system, metabolism, and many other processes essential to human health.

When the delicate balance of microbes in our intestines is disturbed, it can have serious consequences.

Irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, allergies, asthma, and cancer have all been linked to abnormal gut microbiomes.

A healthful diet supports bacterial diversity and health, but could chocolate be an integral part of this?

Benefits of cocoa

Cocoa is the dry, non-fatty component prepared from the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree and the ingredient that gives chocolate its characteristic taste. Continue reading

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Your brain on chocolate – Harvard

At the risk of repeating myself yet again, my family has a history of Alzheimer’s and dementia, so any info on brain health resonates deeply with me.

Here is Dr. Robert H. Shmerling, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications on chocolate and your brain.

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Did you know that places where chocolate consumption is highest have the most Nobel Prize recipients? It’s true, at least according to a 2012 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Of course, that could be a coincidence. But is it possible that intelligence or other measures of high brain function are actually improved by the consumption of chocolate? A new review summarizes the evidence and concludes with a resounding “maybe.”

Keeping your brain healthy

When it comes to preserving and improving brain function, let’s face it: we need all the help we can get. With age, diseases that cause dementia, such as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, become more common. And since we have an aging population, predictions are that dementia will become much more common in the near future. Yet despite decades of research, there are no highly effective treatments for dementia. Continue reading

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Filed under aging brain, brain, brain function, brain health, chocolate, Harvard Health Publications, Healthy brain

Chocolate may improve cognitive function within hours – Study

Here is some good news for chocolate lovers. Researchers have found that cocoa flavanols could boost cognitive function within just a few hours of consumption. Perhaps the best news is that elderly adults reaped the best benefits.

Additionally, researchers found that regular, long-term intake of cocoa flavanols may protect against cognitive decline.

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Writing in Medical News Today, Honor Whiteman reported flavanols are naturally occurring compounds found in various types of plants, with some of the highest levels found in the beans of the cocoa tree.

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Food and health cliches revisited – Wake Forest

An apple a day keeps the doctor away – I always liked that one. While apples boast many health benefits, they do not, sadly, bulletproof us against all diseases.

“Everything our parents said was good is bad,” complains Alvy Singer, the character played by Woody Allen in “Annie Hall,” his 1977 Oscar-winning romantic comedy.

Green-vegetables

That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but when it comes to what certain foods can do to or for you, it’s probably best to take motherly advice, familiar sayings and other bits of conventional wisdom with a grain of salt.

“There’s some validity to some of them, but many of them are just old wives’ tales or myths that have trickled down over the years,” said Annette Frain, a registered dietitian at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Continue reading

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The Sweet Truth About Chocolate

Herewith my reminder from last year on Valentine’s Day Eve.

Tony

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

In view of Valentine’s Day tomorrow and tons of chocolate being consumed in honor of it, I thought it might be useful to get a taste of chocolate’s impact on our health.

Medical News Today says, “Throughout the years, chocolate has been on the end of a lot of bad press because of its fat content, and its consumption has been associated with acne, obesity, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and diabetes.

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“However, ‘the recent discovery of biologically active phenolic compounds in cocoa has changed this perception and stimulated research on its effects in aging, oxidative stress, blood pressure regulation, and atherosclerosis. Today, chocolate is lauded for its tremendous antioxidant potential.’
The potential benefits of eating chocolate may include:
▪    lowering cholesterol levels
▪    preventing cognitive decline
▪    reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems.

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Can Walking Cut Chocolate Cravings?

A short, brisk walk can help to curb your cravings for cocoa, according to a study reported in LiveScience.

As a chocolate lover and avid bicycle rider, I manage my calories to include chocolate and still maintain my weight. If you are concerned about adding pounds, or inches, a brisk walk might be in order for you.

“Researchers at the University of Exeter had 25 regular chocolate eaters abstain from their favorite snack for three days. They were then assigned to either take a brisk 15-minute walk or to rest.

“The participants then performed tasks that would normally increase their chocolate jones, including a mental challenge and opening a chocolate bar. The walkers reported lower cravings both during the walk and for about 10 minutes afterward. They were also less likely to be tempted by unwrapping the candy bar,” LiveScience reported.
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The Sweet Truth About Chocolate

In view of Valentine’s Day tomorrow and tons of chocolate being consumed in honor of it, I thought it might be useful to get a taste of chocolate’s impact on our health.

Medical News Today says, “Throughout the years, chocolate has been on the end of a lot of bad press because of its fat content, and its consumption has been associated with acne, obesity, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and diabetes.

Valentines-RockyMountain.jpg

“However, ‘the recent discovery of biologically active phenolic compounds in cocoa has changed this perception and stimulated research on its effects in aging, oxidative stress, blood pressure regulation, and atherosclerosis. Today, chocolate is lauded for its tremendous antioxidant potential.’
The potential benefits of eating chocolate may include:
▪    lowering cholesterol levels
▪    preventing cognitive decline
▪    reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems. Continue reading

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Why A Journalist Scammed The Media Into Spreading Bad Chocolate Science

In fact, that’s exactly what he did Wednesday, in a story for io9 that’s gone viral. Bohannon, a science journalist who also has a Ph.D., lays out how he carried out an elaborate hoax to expose just how easily bad nutrition science gets disseminated in the mainstream media.

As a journalist who still consumes financial, political and diet stories, this was particularly worthwhile. I know how hard legitimate journalists works to ‘get it right.’ Sadly, there are some folks who call themselves journalists who are anything but.

Kudos to Mr. Bohannon.

Tony

Cooking with Kathy Man

Earlier this spring, headlines around the world trumpeted an exciting bit of news that seemed too good to be true: “Eating chocolate … can even help you LOSE weight!” as Britain’s Daily Mail put it.

From India to Australia and Texas to Germany, news organizations shared findings published in the International Archives of Medicine in late March.

The problem? The study they were based on was pure junk. And the person behind it, John Bohannon, would be the first to tell you that.

In fact, that’s exactly what he did Wednesday, in a story for io9 that’s gone viral. Bohannon, a science journalist who also has a Ph.D., lays out how he carried out an elaborate hoax to expose just how easily bad nutrition science gets disseminated in the mainstream media.

Diet science, Bohannon stresses, is still science – and reporters need to know how to cover it. “You have…

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Why (and How) You Should Add Raw Cacao to Your Diet

I must confess I am late to the party in terms of raw cacao. That is strange as I love chocolate and don’t need much of an excuse to eat some. But, I actually came across raw cacao in one of the recent infographics on super foods that I ran right here on the blog. Turns out raw cacao is one of them. I bought mine from Terrasoul Superfoods on Amazon.


Secrets of Longevity
says, “It turns out that all the bad things commonly attributed to non-raw chocolate bars, such as cavities, weight gain and diabetes, are actually caused by the dairy, sugar and others fillers added to the dark chocolate. Health benefits of chocolate when it is in the form of raw cacao beans, butter, nibs and/or the powder include; weight loss (because of its high chromium and coumarin content), prevention of cavities (theobromine actually kills streptococci mutans one of the strains of bacteria that cause tooth decay) and regulation of blood sugar which is beneficial for diabetes (chromium can naturally regulate blood sugar). Also raw cacao benefits the heart and the entire cardiovascular system as a whole.

“Cacao is the highest whole food source of magnesium, which also happens to be the most deficient mineral in the diet of modern cultures. Magnesium relaxes muscles, improves peristalsis in the bowels and relaxes the heart and cardiovascular system. The dark chocolate antioxidants have been clinically proven to literally dissolve plaque built up in the arteries which helps in reversing heart disease and causes naturally lower blood pressure. Also, various other vitamins and minerals in raw cacao benefits the cardiovascular system.”

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Now that you appetite has been whetted, how do you get this bitter, if wonderful, substance into your system? Here is a brief list: Continue reading

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5 Healthy Eating Habits to Adopt This Year

If taking them all on at once seems overwhelming, try a “step-ladder” approach—focus on one change until it feels like a normal part of your daily routine, then add another, and another. Sometimes taking it slow ups the chances that behaviors will stick, so come December 2015, you’ll be celebrating a year of accomplishments.

Our Better Health

January 1, 2015    By Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

Nutrition is a hot topic these days, yet many of my clients still struggle with consistently following through with “the basics,” and the stats show that missing the mark on many healthy habits is the norm. For example, the median daily intake of produce for U.S. adults is 1.1 servings of fruit and 1.6 servings of veggies, far below the minimum recommended five daily servings.

If you’re going to set just one goal for 2015, I think eating more produce should be it, but I’ve also listed four others below. I know you’ve heard them before, but they are without a doubt the most tried-and-true, impactful eating habits you can foster—both for your waistline and your health. And despite knowing them, you may not be achieving them, so they’re worth considering as you choose your resolutions.

If taking them all on…

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What is a Healthy Way to Handle Food Cravings?

Everyone has suffered from food cravings at one time or another. For some of us the memory lingers on. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

Chocolate, carbonated drinks and bread are three examples of food items that spring immediately to my mind.

I certainly know about cravings for chocolate. I am not sure that I have fully conquered mine. I also know that while both men and women crave chocolate, women have it worse. Some 25 per cent of men crave chocolate, while 40 per cent of women do. Anecdotally, I have only met one woman in my life who didn’t.

Often a craving for chocolate is a result of a deficiency in levels of the trace mineral magnesium.

Often a craving for chocolate is a result of a deficiency in levels of the trace mineral magnesium.

FITDAY says, “Eating chocolate makes you feel good, because it increases levels of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of well-being and enhanced mood. Many women experience lowered serotonin levels in the 7 to 10 days prior to their menstrual periods, which is one reason why premenstrual women often have powerful cravings for chocolate.

“High levels of stress can also make women and men crave chocolate, since increasing serotonin levels can also lead to significant reductions in anxiety. Chocolate is a popular comfort food. It is chosen by emotional eaters, since eating it can raise serotonin levels and help comfort eaters forget about emotional or other problems, low self-esteem or mildly depressed mood.”

Chocolate also contains trace minerals, including magnesium, which are often deficient in women around their menstrual cycles. So, instead of seeking solace in a Hershey bar, munching on some nuts, or leafy green veggies might restore magnesium levels in a healthier way.

Similarly, a lust for sodas and carbonate beverages can be linked to a low calcium supply. Again, dump the diet soda and get into some green veggies, like broccoli or kale.

While I don’t share the carbonated beverage craving, I will confess that some breads are absolutely magnificent to my taste buds. But a bread craving can also trace back to a shortage of nitrogen. Legumes, cauliflower and spinach are super sources.

So, if you find yourself on the wrong end of a craving, instead of just digging in, there may be a far healthier alternative. Don’t cave in to the cravin’.

Tony

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6 Common Chocolate Myths, Busted

The information below is based on a one ounce serving of 70 percent dark chocolate or one tablespoon of cocoa powder. An ounce of dark chocolate is about a quarter cup, grated. That’s usually about 1/3 of a regular-sized chocolate bar.

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Our Better Health

Becky Striepe     November 4, 2014

From fat content to acne to your sex drive, there are some big claims out there about chocolate. Check out these common chocolate myths and the truth about chocolate.

When it comes to chocolate and health, the trick isn’t avoiding chocolate altogether. It’s making smart choices. Sure, if you eat a whole Hershey’s bar, you’re not doing your health any favors. But a few squares of good, dark chocolate can actually be beneficial. You can also add 1-3 teaspoons of cocoa powder to a smoothie recipe to instantly transform it into a healthy, chocolatey treat. The sugars from the fruit will offset the cocoa powder’s bitterness. Start with a teaspoon, taste, and add more until you get just the right balance.

The information below is based on a one ounce serving of 70 percent dark chocolate or one tablespoon of cocoa powder. An…

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Headache Causes and Natural Treatments

The cause of the headache should always be sought. A doctor will therefore inquire about your lifestyle to try to discover any factors which may aggravate the problem. Diet can also be a trigger, especially in cases of migraine. Cheese, chocolate, alcohol or coffee can all be causes, but each case will be assessed on its merits.

Dr. John Falkenberg Medical Blog

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Almost everyone experiences headaches at times. Most are caused by tension in the muscles of the scalp and neck after periods of stress. Some result from eating problems or alcohol abuse. Others are the forerunners of cold or influenza. Menstruation can be another common cause in women.

Contrary to popular belief, eyestrain only rarely produces a headache, and if it does, it usually arises from astigmatism.

Migraines can cause severe headaches, often on one side of the head and sometimes they are associated with numbness or weakness down one side of the face or body.

Headaches are common after a head injury (concussion), and it can also be caused by sinus problems or problems involving the lower jaw muscles that may result from teeth grinding.

A sudden, severe headache, like a blow to the back of the head, often followed by unconsciousness, may indicate internal bleeding underneath the brain known…

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Healthy Holiday Eating Tips #5 – At Home

Having covered holiday eating situations in which you are the guest, what about the one(s) in which you are the host(ess)?

Here are some suggestions from a presentation by Holly Herrington, MS RD, before Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Transitions Program®.

Experiment with Recipes

Don’t feel like you have to make all the traditional food with 100 per cent traditional recipes and ingredients.

Roast Turkey and Stuffing

Feel free to swap high calories ingredients out and put low calories ones in.  For example, you can use low-fat cheese, Greek yogurt vs sour cream, mustard vs mayo, applesauce vs oil, cinnamon vs sugar.

Most pumpkin pie recipes call for at least one cup of cream or evaporated whole milk and two eggs. Use evaporated skim milk and three egg whites to cut about 300 calories and 30 to 38 grams of fat from your pie.

Buy brown and serve bread rolls instead of the higher-fat crescent rolls to cut about 1100 extra calories and about 100 grams of fat per dozen.

Use light cream cheese instead of regular cream cheese in your dips, spreads and cheesecakes to cut about 16 grams of fat per cup of cream cheese.

Make a little less so the temptation is not so great to overeat.

Go easy on the gravy and opt for canned cranberry sauce on your turkey for a nutritious and fat-free option.

Replace the bread in your holiday stuffing with canned chestnuts, a nutritious and different alternative. To further lighten your stuffing and add valuable nutrients, mix in canned, chopped vegetables, too.

Serve meals in the kitchen instead of family-style on the table to avoid reaching for seconds out of convenience.

Put any leftovers in the freezer before sitting down ot eat so as not to be tempted for second helpings.

If you are baking for friends and family, spend a little extra time and money on individual packaging so you are less likely to dip into leftovers.

I hope these suggestions prove helpful to you in your holiday meal preparation. Please feel free to send in your own suggestions as well as substitutions.

You can read the entire Healthy Holiday eating series starting with Tips for Healthy holiday eating and scrolling backwards.

Happy and healthy holiday eating!

Tony

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Healthy Holiday Eating Tips #4 – At Work

So far I have confined myself to holiday dining with family and friends, but the holiday season contains another diabolical source of bad food – the workplace.

A little personal anecdote here: I worked for a philanthropic organization for my final 10 years before retiring. Holiday time was a very happy period as we were deluged with huge tins of various kinds of popcorn, carmelcorn, kettle corn, etc. We would receive ten pound chocolate bars which were left in the break room with a knife for cutting off a piece. I’m sure it is no surprise to anyone that I weighed upwards of 180 pounds in those days compared with my low 150s now.

One of the reasons I no longer have a weight problem is the 180 degree change in my attitude toward food. I don’t think of food as a pleasure source in itself to be mindlessly consumed like I did as a child. I now think of food as a source of good health and fuel for my body and my activities. You can read further on Whether food is an end or a means in that blog post. I still enjoy the taste of food, but I don’t stop there.

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One way to look at office snacks is that those little Snickers Bars only amount to 100 calories. What’s the harm? The harm comes from eating a dozen of them for a total over 1000 calories, or more than half of your daily calorie budget of 2000 calories. As it takes 3500 calories to put a pound on your body weight, it wouldn’t take too many days of snacking like this to pack on some weight and waist.

Burning off the holiday treats

Burning off the holiday treats

Another way to look at it is: what do you need to do to burn off 1000 calories.
– One hour on the elliptical machine = 500 calories
– 60 minutes of lifting weights = 300 calories
– One hour of yard work, or stringing up holiday lights = 200 calories
– Or the equivalent of three hours of physical activity.

Maybe seeing the price you pay in physical activity to burn off a snack binge will help to put workplace holiday snacking into a clearer perspective for you.

Eat less; move more … and enjoy the holidays.

Tony

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Is Chocolate a Good Energy Booster?

There are lots of kinds of chocolate, but if you are thinking that milk chocolate, the most popular kind, is a good energy booster because it has caffeine in it, you are incorrect.

WebMD said, “Chocolate does have caffeine. But if you’re looking to get a caffeine boost, chocolate isn’t your best bet.

Chocolate

You’d need to eat 14 regular-sized (1.5 oz) bars of  milk chocolate to get the same caffeine as you’d find in a 8-ounce cup of coffee! That would have about  3,000 calories and more than 300 grams of sugar — compared to only about two calories in black coffee.

Dark chocolate does have more caffeine than milk chocolate. Even then, it would take four bars to give you the same buzz as one cup of regular Joe.”

This is part of a WebMD quiz on chocolate that you can take at the link above.

If you want to boost your energy, eat or drink a tablespoon or two of coconut oil. You can take it straight from the jar, or mix it into your smoothie or energy drink.

Dr. Bruce Fife, certified nutritionist and author of The Healing Miracles of Coconut Oil says the reason coconut oil is such an energy booster is because of its medium chain fatty acids (MCFA). Continue reading

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