Tuesday March 9, 2004

Chocolate Lovers Rejoice

I found this interesting tidbit in a Readers Digest Magazine article (February 2004)
...Scientists at Cornell University and Seoul National University examined the cancer-fighting antioxidant content of hot cocoa, red wine, and tea, and found that cocoa had nearly double the antioxidants of red wine and four to five times more than tea. Instant cocoa would likely give you similar benefits, say the researchers. (Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants too, but it also has unhealthy fats)....
I beg to differ with that last part; my understanding is that cocoa butter is not an unhealthy fat.
One of the main ingredients of chocolate is cocoa butter, which is made up of beneficial fatty acids like stearic, oleic and palmitic....

Chocolate contains mostly stearic acids, which have a neutral effect on cholesterol in comparison with other saturated fats.

[cf. The Chocoholic's Choice, May 2003, San Francisco Chronicle.

Somehow I never published a report on the Chronicle article excerpted above when it originally came out! What was I thinking?!

The "Chocoholic's Choice" article also discussed the beneficial antioxidant properties of chocolate, in this case as a topical application!

"Like many other antioxidants, cocoa polyphenols are thought to offer the skin protection from free-radical damage caused by sun, pollution, stress, alcohol consumption and other factors. I believe that we will hear more about the benefits of chocolate in skin care."
- Marlies Spinale, Tru Spa [San Francisco] director of operation, May 2003
And it gets better:
Scientists already have identified the heart benefits of having a small amount of red wine each day. How about a chocolate to go with it, or maybe even in place of it? An average bar of dark chocolate contains more phenols (thought to help reduce the risk of heart disease) than 8 ounces of red wine.
But wait, there's more. Research in 2002 suggests that chocolate might help reduce hypertension. In a study conducted by Norman Hollenberg of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, it was found that flavanols in chocolate appear to help the body use nitric oxide, which is crucial for healthy blood flow and blood pressure.
Not convinced yet? Well how about the UC Davis study that points to chocolate as the next aspirin? Participants who ate chocolate showed a reduction in platelet activity. This means that chocolate has an anti-clotting, blood-thinning effect comparable to that of aspirin. And it tastes a lot better.
Even the aroma of chocolate is known to lift spirits. At the Cognition and Research Center at Middlesex University in England, a study captured a physical change in the nasal passages of participants, in addition to a bout of euphoria they experienced when exposed to chocolate's inviting bouquet. And at Harvard University, a study of 8,000 65-year-old men revealed that those who consumed chocolate lived almost a year longer than those who abstained.
Wow. There is a downside of course. Chocolate contains... calories (about 150 to the ounce, before adding sugar :-( Milk chocolate contains less chocolate and more sugar (I'll stick to the dark stuff :-).

Then again, with all the low-carb diets in style, it's possible to find more and more choices in sugar-free chocolate. Just be sure to read the labels, and exercise caution with the sugar alcohols such as maltitol — they can cause "gastric disturbances" in susceptible individuals (or after "excessive" consumption in most people).

In the meantime, consider the following joke making its rounds on the Internet:

Can't eat beef ..... mad cow.

Can't eat chicken ..... bird flu.

Can't eat eggs ..... bird flu again, and salmonella too

Can't eat pork ..... fears that bird flu will infect piggies (and don't ever forget trichinosis!)

Can't eat fish ..... heavy metals in the waters has poisoned their meat.

Can't eat potatoes, rice, or bread ..... Atkins says starch makes you FAT

Can't eat fruits and veggies ..... insecticides and herbicides.

Hmmmm! I believe that leaves Chocolate!

Works for me!

Chocolate Lovers Rejoice ( in category Random Thoughts ) - posted at Tue, 09 Mar, 11:18 Pacific | «e»