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The Healing Powers of Chocolate Paperback – January 1, 2010
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"Can dark chocolate boost brain power? This book show you how regular intake of antioxidant-rich cacao foods is likely to do just that, and more."
"Chocolate is a taste of divine ecstasy on Earth. It is our sensual communion. Orey's journalistic style and efforts share this insight with readers around the world."
From the Author
By Cal Orey
A healthful diet and lifestyle are part of the arsenal to beat the battle of the bulge, which often be linked sooner than later to heart disease--still America's number one killer for both men and women, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
In a cocoa bean shell, chocolate is made from the cocoa plant, which means it contains many of the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. These good-for-you perks stem from flavonoids, which act as mighty antioxidants. We know antioxidants protect the body from bad-for-you free radicals (imagine little Pac-Men wearing T shirts with the words "Antioxidant Fighter") and gobble these harmful culprits in your body, lowering the risk of damage that can lead to heart disease.
Heart-healthy chocolate has also been shown to lower blood pressure, and regulate cholesterol by reducing the bad kind (LDL) while maintaining the good kind (HDL)--two culprits for boomers and elderly folk. Caveat: Start slow working your way up to the dark stuff. Try 48% to 50% cacao content infused with spices, fruits, and nuts. You can do this the easy way!
High Blood Pressure and the Chocolate Cure
It's the total diet and lifestyle package that may keep blood pressure numbers normal--not just dark chocolate. But chocolate can come to the rescue and research proves it.
How Chocolate Works: Turn to chocolate if you are one out of approximately three American adults with high blood pressure. A past study conducted by Harvard medical researchers found that the Kuna Indians who reside on an island off the Caribbean coast of Panama are not plagued by hypertension or heart disease. Scientists say that the answer may be as simple as the five cups of cocoa they drink daily--and that may be what keep the tribe immune to blood pressure numbers soaring out of control.
What's more, Yale University researchers discovered that solid dark chocolate and liquid cocoa can also help reduce blood pressure in overweight adults. In 45 adults who consumed a solid dark chocolate bar or sugar-free cocoa, there were positive results. Systolic numbers were 2.3 to 5.8 points lower, diastolic numbers were 1.2 to 8.7 points lower.
The conclusion: Both dark chocolate and liquid cocoa showed heart benefits. And note, these little numbers make play a big role in an individual's life by lowering the risk of stroke or death due to heart disease.
What You Can Do: Rather than drink five cups of cocoa per day (remember, moderation is key), 2 ounces of dark chocolate in a variety of forms, whether it be a bar or hot cocoa, may just be your secret to keeping those blood pressure numbers at 120/80--even lower.
Cholesterol Ups and Downs
Did you know that saturated fat is the main unhealthy culprit of high blood cholesterol? Surprise! Dietary fat content in chocolate is not all saturated fat. In fact, research shows chocolate can help lower your blood pressure and bad cholesterol. But let's look at the good and bad numbers before you reach for that chocolate bar.
In adults, total cholesterol levels of 240 milligrams or higher are considered high risk, and levels from 200 to 230 are considered borderline high risk, according to the AHA. Research proves that polyphenols can help you stay heart healthy. Studies show chocolate has positive benefits for the heart. Chocolate raised the "good" cholesterol, lowered the total cholesterol, and lowered triglycerides. The results proved that stearic acids, one of the fats in chocolate, contains benefits for your HDL cholesterol and may lower your risk of developing other heart problems.
How Chocolate Works: The University of Illinois and Mars discovered that a daily dose of a cocoa-flavanol-containing dark chocolate bar improves blood pressure and helps regulate cholesterol levels. The study included 49 women and men who had elevated cholesterol levels and blood pressure. The findings: As part of the balanced, low-fat diet, chocolate bars consumed on a regular basis lowered total cholesterol by 2 percent and LDL "bad" cholesterol by 5.3 percent.
What You Can Do: The fact is, medical doctors will tell you that the older you get and more sedentary you become, teamed with bad lifestyle habits (i.e., smoking, being overweight), the more your cholesterol and blood pressure is apt to go up, not down. While half a bar of quality dark chocolate per week may lower your risk of developing heart disease, it is the wholesome diet and lifestyle habits (including regular exercise) that can help you keep heart problems at by. So, eat fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fatty fish (i.e., salmon, which contains heart-healthy fat (and poultry, eggs (in moderation), low-fat dairy, and antioxidant-rich extra virgin olive oil. And yes, you can add chocolate to your list and eat it, too.
The Surprising Secrets To Savor
Chocolate Keeps The Doctor Away
Disease How Chocolate Works
Obesity: Monounsaturated fats in dark chocolate satisfy your hunger and chocolate tends to a sweet tooth, so overindulgence in food and calories is not a problem.
Heart Disease: Antioxidants in dark chocolate help to lower the risk of heart disease of all kinds.
Diabetes: Dark chocolate may cut the amount of "bad" LDL cholesterol in the blood, which may lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Longevity: Dark chocolate in moderation lowers the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes--all diseases that can shorten lifespan.
5 Chocolate's Compounds, Mood Enhancers
Here, take a quick look how you can get a quick heart-healthy mood booster from some of the most talked about compounds in chocolate.
Anandamide: Touted as the "bliss chemical," it occurs naturally in the brain and when released to our brain receptors can provide good feelings.
Caffeine: The ingredient has a stimulating effect on the nervous system. But note, both chocolate and cocoa contain minimal amounts of caffeine. Did you know that there isn't a whole lot of caffeine in any kind of chocolate? A 1-ounce piece of cark chocolate contains 10-20 milligrams of caffeine.
Endorphins: Dark chocolate, like exercise, help release endorphins, natural painkillers in your body that act on the nervous system to alleviate pain.
PEA: Another brain chemical can increase blood pressure and feelings of excitement and alertness. It also has been called the "love drug" because it can mimic feeling of falling in love.
Serotonin: This is a brain chemical that can make you feel happier. It is another compound in chocolate that can provide a calming effect. When your serotonin level is low, you may feel down.
(Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010) part of the Healing Powers series)
Cal Orey, M.A., is an accomplished author and journalist specializing in topics such as health, nutrition, science, and pets.
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I love this book. Now I know chocolate can be an enjoyable addition to my diet with numerous health perks to boot... Sweet!
Most recent customer reviews
It's a great book.