Monday, August 22, 2011

Eat Your Chocolate

Recent research suggests there are health benefits related to eating dark chocolate.

Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, which are high in natural antioxidants called flavonoids. Antioxidants have been linked to the prevention of diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

The greater the amount of cocoa there is in the chocolate, the higher the level of antioxidants.

"Because dark chocolate has a higher percentage of cocoa than other types of chocolate, it is the healthiest option. Dark chocolate that contains at least 60 percent cocoa is best," says University of Missouri Extension nutrition and health education specialist Christeena Haynes.

According to a nine-year study by the American Heart Association, middle-aged and elderly Swedish women who ate about one to two servings of high-quality chocolate each week decreased their risk of heart failure by 32 percent, while those who consumed one to three servings each month decreased their risk by only 26 percent.

The high-quality chocolate the women were consuming in this study was comparable to the typical dark chocolate eaten in the United States.

"The study also showed that the women who ate one or more servings every day showed no reduced risk of heart failure, which is probably because they were replacing healthy foods in their diets with the high-calorie chocolate," said Haynes.

In other studies, primarily short-term, dark chocolate has been found to lower blood pressure. It has also been associated with decreased risk of blood clots, increased blood flow in the arteries and heart, and improved cognitive function in the elderly.

"Even with these possible health benefits, you still have to keep in mind that dark chocolate is high in calories, fat, and sugar, which can lead to weight gain," says Haynes. "It should be eaten in moderation, as a part of a well-balanced diet. Consuming dark chocolate will not make up for unhealthy eating habits."

According to Haynes, there is no definitive recommendation for a daily amount except that it should be a small amount, like one ounce. One ounce would be about the size of four Hershey's kisses.

"The biggest challenge is not eating the dark chocolate, it is stopping after just one ounce."

University of Missouri Extension
Christeena Haynes, (417) 345-7551

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Eating Healthy at a Barbecue

The main course is often burgers and hot dogs - maybe some sausages or barbecued chicken. Stay away from the hot dogs and sausages.

, a simple, small burger would be a diet-friendly choice. These days they may even have a few veggie burgers on the grill, an even healthier choice. If there's grilled chicken available, grab a breast, peel off the skin, and feel comfortable eating a piece about the size of the palm of your hand.

For a refreshing dessert, try to have some sort of fruit, be it a slice of melon or a colorful salad.
~ from When to Eat What by by Heidi Reichenberger McIndoo

Kitchen Supply: Outdoor Cooking
Recipe: Victory Chicken