Wednesday, 21 February 2007

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

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.

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