People who watch what they eat may be surprised to learn that the list of healthy food and drink isn’t confined to alfalfa sprouts and water. There are a number of tasty treats. For example, experts have found this about chocolate: people will eat it if they know what is good for them.
Chemists recently discovered the reason that dark chocolate is actually good for humans. They found that bacteria in the gut convert a part of the candy into anti-inflammatory compounds. As a result, the chemists say, these compounds can delay some cardiovascular diseases associated with inflammation.
If one particular study is successful, however, it threatens to take the fun out of the benefits of eating chocolate. Studies involving 18,000 residents in Seattle and Boston will determine if a pill that contains some of the bio-active chemicals in chocolate, such as cocoa flavanols, will be just as effective as munching a chocolate bar. Chocoholics everywhere no-doubt hope the experiment is a failure.
While the news about the health benefits of chocolate was greeted with joy by sweet tooths everywhere, the candy is not the only taste treat that may be good for the human body. Take red wine, for instance. For decades, it has been thought that a glass or two a day might also pack some benefits. For instance, antioxidants called polyphenols, present in red wine, may help protect the lining of the heart’s blood vessels. In addition, a polyphenol known as resveratrol may not only help prevent blood vessel damage, but may reduce the low-density lipoprotein, called the “bad cholesterol” and prevent blood clots.
There are more foods that, like chocolate, people will eat if they know what is good for them. For instance, a recent finding published in the European Journal of Nutrition was good news for breakfast lovers. The report cited a study that eggs do not contribute to cardiovascular disease, and that even yolks aren’t harmful to the body. On the contrary, the University of Michigan’s Food Pyramid contends that eggs contain almost every essential mineral and vitamin the body requires except for vitamin C. Yolks have been found to offer vitamins A, D, E and K. They also offer lutein and zeaxanthin, which actually lower the chances of developing macular degeneration and heart disease.
One recent study has nutritionists saying, “nuts.” After years of accusing nuts of bringing nothing but fat and calories to the party, researchers discovered the difference between good fats and bad ones, and suddenly nuts were back on the table. A study published in the 2010 National Institutes of Health claimed nuts even help decrease the risks of diabetes and heart disease. Peanuts, according to the USDA, contain resveratrol, the antioxidant also in red wine. The study said that boiling the peanuts, which are actually a type of bean, actually puts them on a par with red wine.
Another study has old-think nutritionists losing sleep. Coffee, a study on Harvard University’s website calls coffee rich in antioxidants and flavonoids that can reduce incidences of diabetes, liver disease and Parkinson’s (in men). The Popular Science website says coffee makes a person smarter, burns fat, improves athletic performance and extends lifespan. Another Harvard study, done in 2013, says coffee also decrease instances of suicide. Most researches, however, agree that coffee is bad for pregnant women and it can worsen problem associate with blood pressure and aggravate insomnia.
So the evidence is in, and at least until the next rounds of research say otherwise, it’s safe to say, “Chocolate: you will eat it if you know what is good for you.”
B. David Warner