David Meinz Nutrition
and Health Newsletter No. 5
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Volunteers Needed For Chocolate Study:


           Scientists have just started a study to see if women who eat a chocolate bar every day, for a full year, can reduced the risk of heart disease. Yes, I know you would have been willing to do your part for science, but they already had more volunteers than they needed. 
           Did you know that Hershey's makes over 20 million Kisses a day?  There's about 30 calories in each piece. You do the math.
            And have you heard the latest news?  It turns out, chocolate is good for you. That's right, according to some news reports, chocolate might help you stay healthy and even fight some diseases like cancer.  As you know by this point, there are usually two sides to every story.  It turns out that chocolate contains a substance called flavonoids.  These are naturally occurring antioxidants.  In laboratory studies, and that’s important, not in real humans yet, in laboratory studies these antioxidants have been found to neutralize the substances that can damage blood vessel walls. And chocolate contains some of these good antioxidants. Well, could you ask for any better news? Something you love is absolutely good for you.  It's very important, however, to point out that, at this time, there are no studies, none, zero, specifically showing a strong relationship between chocolate intake and the health of your heart or your ability to prevent cancer. That’s why they’re doing the current chocolate bar study.  The bigger question is whether the fat and calorie price tag you pay to get these antioxidants is worth it.  Let me tell you what we do know as of right now.

           Since chocolate comes from a plant it naturally contains no cholesterol.  Only animal products have cholesterol. And it turns out that two-thirds of the fat found in chocolate is not the kind that’s bad for your heart.  But remember once again, all fat has calories.  So even if a fat is not bad for your arteries, it can still contribute to your waistline. An ounce of chocolate usually has between 140 and 150 calories and 9 or 10 grams of fat.  Of course, if nuts or cream or coconut are added, that will add several more grams of fat per ounce.  By the way, if you have a chocolate covered cherry, or chocolate mint like a York Peppermint Patty, the calories are lower and usually have only around two grams of fat per ounce.

           Now some basics. Chocolate is made from cocoa beans which come from the cacao tree. Unsweetened cocoa powder is made after the cocoa beans are roasted and a significant amount of cocoa butter is removed.  The result is very bitter.  If you use unsweetened cocoa powder you have to add your own sweetener. The good news that's coming out about chocolate really applies to cocoa powder, not necessarily your chocolate candy bar.  Chocolate candy, of course, has added fat and added sugar. Remember that every average 2.6 oz. bar of dark chocolate has around 23 grams of fat.  It also has over eight teaspoons of sugar and around 400 total calories. It's specifically the cocoa powder that contains these good flavonoids we were talking about earlier. And It turns out that if chocolate isn’t produced carefully it loses a lot of those flavonoids. Heating, fermentation, the process of "Dutching" or alkalizing cocoa or chocolate, which is done to improve the flavor, can also destroy the good flavonoids in the cocoa bean. 
There’s nothing wrong with a little chocolate now and then.  But who eats just a little?  The average American woman eats around 11 pounds of chocolate per year. Since chocolate is so calorically dense, it’s very easy to get a lot of calories and fat in just a little food.  Sure, chocolate isn’t going to do much damage to a good diet.  Are you eating a good diet?  I hope so.  But many people are living on food that already is too high in fat, sugar, and calories and too low in fiber, fruits, and vegetables.  Saying that chocolate can be a healthy addition to that kind of intake is just wrong.  Speaking of sugar, be sure to download the sugar listings of some common foods in the special “How Sweet It Is” handout below.
            The bottom line on chocolate is that it is not a health food. A much better way to get your antioxidants is from fruits and vegetables.  They’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber too.  And you get a lot less fat, sugar, and calories than with a chocolate candy bar. Technically speaking, dark chocolate may have some minor health benefits. But don't eat it for that reason. Just eat it in moderation because it tastes sooo good!  Hey, you didn't really need a reason to eat chocolate anyway did you?

 Coming Next Issue:
Eating Your Way Through The Holidays

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Did You Know?....
In the 16th Century French physicians considered chocolate an aphrodisiac.
Did You Know?...
The street lights on Main Street in Hershey, PA are shaped like Hershey kisses.
Did You Know?...
The Baby Ruth candy bar is named after President Grover Cleveland's daughter Ruth, not Babe Ruth.

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Did You Know?...
In the Alfred Hitchcock black and white movie "Psycho" they used chocolate syrup for blood in the famous shower scene.
Did You Know?...
M & M's were first created for the US Military.
Copyright David L. Meinz, MS, RD, FADA, CSP. All rights reserved. · 1-314-838-7288