For your viewing pleasure......
If you already consume alcohol (beer, wine, spirits) occasionally, alcohol in moderation may play a role in heart health to help increase good cholesterol, reduce clots and help prevent damage to the lining of the arteries.
The benefits may come from polyphenols or antioxidants, specifically resveratrol, which is a naturally occurring non-alcoholic plant based substance which appears to protect against artery damage. It may also slow the progression of neurological degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.
Peanuts, blueberries, grapes and cranberries all contain resveratrol. For a healthy cardiovascular system I encourage people to eat real food for the other nutritional benefits as well (vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc.).
What are the negative effects of drinking?
The holidays are stressful but so is daily life. Alcohol can be addictive and for many, may be a coping mechanism which may lead to excessive drinking. Alcohol may worsen health problems like hypertension, hyperlipidemia/high triglycerides, liver damage, obesity, certain types of cancer, accidents and weaken heart muscles. Pregnant women should not drink during pregnancy and individuals at risk for breast cancer should discuss with primary physician regarding alcohol consumption because alcohol may raise estrogen levels and tumor progression. Wine is also a trigger for migraines either for the tannins and histamins or from the sulfites so if you suffer from bad headaches, I recommend doing an elimination trial of wine for a few days or keeping a journal.
the best advice is if you already drink alcohol, do so in moderation. You can’t just drink your way to good health so if you don't already drink, that's OK - you don't need to start. Don’t ignore the many benefits in a real-food, balanced diet.
1 drink = 12 ounces beer, 5 ounces wine, 1.5 ounces 80-proof distilled spirits.
4 glasses or 1 bottle of wine = ~ 480 calories.
All the chocolate lovers can breathe easily now – absolutely! Dark chocolate is not only heart healthy but it can play an important role in a balanced diet.
Is all chocolate the same?
When it comes to chocolate we have many options. Butterfingers and twix to 90% cacao (pronounced kacow) or cocoa. What we want to look for is cacao – with an A - which refers to the bean itself, particularly in an unprocessed form. The cocoa is more processed due to the addition of other ingredients.
The percentage of cacao on a label refers to the percentage of ingredients by weight in that product that come from the chocolate liquor, cocoa powder and cocoa butter (see definitions below). In general, the higher the percentage, the more intense the flavor. In the US, cacao standards require that milk chocolate have at least 10% chocolate liquor, semi sweet and bittersweet have at least 35 percent. A higher % also means less added sugar. 75% cacao dark chocolate has about 25% sugar whereas 65% has about 35%. Unsweetened baking chocolate is 100% cacao and is very bitter.
Definitions of chocolate ingredients:
(definitions found via the internet)Cacao: Refers to the bean, which is the source of chocolate liquor, cocoa butter and cocoa powder.
Believe it or not, there are many health benefits of eating dark chocolate. Research shows that eating up to 1.5 ounces a day of dark chocolate may help lower blood pressure by improving blood flow. Dark chocolate may also help with arteriosclerosis and reduce risk for stroke but this doesn’t mean that after you eat a loaded hamburger that you will clean up the cardiovascular system with a Hershey Kiss. Also, since chocolate appears to improve blood flow, it may improve cognitive function to help with thinking and memory. It may also help with tooth enamel.
Chocolate also contains chemical compounds that make you feel good, similar to the hormones and endorphins released when you fall in love. Maybe that’s why so many people say they love chocolate because they just feel good when they eat it....I know I do!
Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and flavonoids which not only help to protect the immune system and cardiovascular system but reduces free radical damage to cells and may help with the aging process. Also, dark chocolate may help with insulin resistance for better glucose control. Dark chocolate contains high concentrations of potassium, copper, magnesium and iron.