Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Chocolate Is Good For You!

Tip! Several medical studies show that eating chocolate in moderation can actually prolong your life by reducing risk of blood clots and fighting bad cholestorol.

Great news on the chocolate front! Chocolate is good for you. Under certain circumstances.

Katherine Tallmadge, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, says, in the February 9, 2005, WASHINGTON POST, that "cacao, or cocoa beans, contain ‘flavanols,' naturally occurring plant compounds also found in tea, red wine, and apples. Their properties have been studied as heart disease inhibitors."

Carl L. Keen, chair of the department of nutrition at University of California, Davis, states in the same article that "the flavanols in cocoa help maintain a healthy vascular system. They reduce blood clotting -- an aspirin like effect -- reduce oxidative damage and improve blood flow."




Unfortunately the flavanols in chocolate are bitter and are mostly removed from processed chocolate. The level decreases with each step, from the bean to the cocoa powder, and ultimately to a finished product. But big manufacturers like Nestle and Mars Inc.(producers of M&Ms) are working on chocolate items that are -- what else? -- good for you. We can soon expect chocolate bars and candies that advertise their high level of flavanols. In the meantime, the only product that states its flavanol level is Mars' Dove Dark Chocolate, which has 150 mg. in 1.3 oz., a high level. It also has 200 calories. We live in an imperfect world.

Tip! 'There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love chocolate, and communists.

While we're waiting for more high-flavanol products, Ms. Tallmadge recommends unsweetened cocoa powder, but not the alkalized "Dutch processed" kind, which has had its flavanols reduced. Next in desirability is semisweet or bittersweet chocolate with a high cocoa percentage. Some chocolates contain as much as 70 percent cocoa, but they can have as little as 35 percent. The percent of cocoa in milk chocolate can be even lower, and she does not recommend it. She says, "I recommend cocoa or an ounce per day of dark chocolate, which may be about 110 to 150 calories, depending on the chocolate. Any more than that and you're probably going to take in too many calories for weight control."

Do you have any idea of what you just read? A highly qualified nutrition professional is RECOMMENDING that you eat chocolate! Maybe not large quantities of chocolate, but chocolate. If you have suffered much in the area of chocolate, you may want to enlarge that statement and post it on your bathroom mirror, where it can cheer you on rainy mornings.

Tip! If you have a wrapped chocolate bar, remember, it must be unwrapped and allowed to breathe like a fine wine. Many people yield to the temptation of ripping open a candy bar and immediately taking a bite.

Now comes the chocolate frosting on the cake. Deanna K. reports: "The Diabetic Educator told me about CARBOLITE, a 1.1 oz. low carb chocolate bar made with Splenda, containing 0 sugar carbs, 15-18g carbohydrates, depending on flavor. On Google type in ‘Carbolite'for more information."

Deanna continues, "The other chocolate bar that I think is acceptable is Amber Lyn Chocolates (fine imported Belgian chocolate), sugar free and carb conscious. A little higher in calories than Carbolite, the 1.2 oz bar has 15-16g carbs. For nutrition information visit www.amberlynchocolates.com." The dark chocolate bars have 157 calories.

Flavanols are not listed, but these dark chocolates are a good bet for that HEALTHFUL piece of chocolate it is your DUTY to eat regularly. And soon, no doubt, manufacturers will begin to formulate their candies to be high in flavanols -- and say so.

Tip! 'The superiority of chocolate, both for health and nourishment, will soon give it the same preference over tea and coffee in America which it has in Spain.

As a little girl on a Montana farm, Janette Blackwell ate simple but lusciously delicious country cooking. Which food she brings to you in her storytelling cookbook, STEAMIN' DOWN THE TRACKS WITH VIOLA HOCKENBERRY. Her website, http://www.foodandfiction.com, brings you country cooking and nostalgic stories, while, at http://www.delightfulfood.com, she takes you on a personal, guided tour of the hidden culinary treasures of the Internet. E-mail her at Janette@foodandfiction.com.

Chocolate - Good for You or Too Good?

Tip! User friendly: The hot chocolate maker that you purchase should be easy to use.

Is chocolate an important thing to include in your diet? Most of us are very willing to make chocolate a regular feature in our diet. In fact, people have implied that chocolate may have health benefits as far back as the 17th and 18th centuries.

Today, chocolate is considered such a staple in our diet that it's even included army food rations.

We may love chocolate, but is it really good for us? Many scientists and researchers have given their opinion, with mixed results.




Of course, a certain degree of cynicism surrounds these studies since many of them are underwritten by the chocolate industry. But there are have been some interesting studies related to chocolate and its benefits. Scientists at Japan's Osaka University conducted a study to see if chocolate is helpful in preventing tooth decay, and as a result, bad breath. Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, and the husks of the beans seem to contain an antibacterial agent that helps prevent plaque.

Tip! When you begin eating chocolate, make sure you do it one bite at a time. This is important.

Although the husks are usually thrown out in typical chocolate
production, confectioners may add them back to try to make chocolate more dental-friendly. Of course, even if the bean husks are put back to the chocolate they won't stand a chance in cavity-fighting action against the decay caused by chocolate's high sugar content.

Another study, conducted by Professor Carl Keen, a Californian scientist, was performed to find the health benefits of chocolate. One theory is that chocolate may actually help fight heart disease. Chocolate contains a flavinoids, a chemical which works to thin the blood, ultimately helping to prevent blood clotting. You may have heard of similar food studies - for instance, the one involving red wine, which is said to have the same affect.

Again, Professor Kern's study was funded by the candy maker, Mars, so it lacks a certain credibility. Harvard University conducted another study that found that if you eat chocolate three times a month your life expectancy will increase by at least a year. Unfortunately, the same study looked at the effect of over-indulgence, which tends to lower life expectancy. Chocolate's high-fat content means that over indulgence can result in obesity, which in turn resulting in an increased potential of heart disease. Does the type of chocolate provide for better overall health?

Tip! Choose chocolates sweetened with evaporated cane juice or barley malt. If the evaporated cane juice used is the unprocessed whole juice of the cane, it acts in the body like a whole food and doesn't give a sugar rush.

According to Dirk Taubert, MD, PhD, at the University of Cologne, Germany, he and his colleagues found that dark chocolate lower blood pressure (as opposed to white or milk chocolate). Unfortunately the benefits of dark chocolate don't apply to everyone.

According to the researchers, eating dark chocolate lowers blood pressure, if you are of a certain age and likely suffer from mild to high blood pressure. In a perfect world, chocolate would be a healthy choice along the lines of nutrients found in spinach, but unfortunately that's not the case.

Tip! Let the excess chocolate drip off. Place the strawberry upside down with the point in the air.

Chocolate may have some possible health benefits, but a chronic overindulgence will lead to far more serious health risks. Chocolate is one the pleasures of life that should be appreciated, not over-indulged.

Patie Ackery and Jaynne Nicols have partnered to research a food that is loved by all but especially women. If you'd like to read more about chocolate check out the resource at http://www.anychocolate.com

Tip! 'There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love chocolate, and communists.

Jaynne Nicols has done a lot of research into illness and why we get ill. One of the things she came across is that almost all illness starts in your colon. Sign up for her free newsletter Health and Wellness in the 21st Century and learn more in and through her series on health issues.