Carvings August 1, 2021
In the news
Your favorite drinks – coffee and cocoa — are looking better!
Today’s Carvings format is a little different. Two items appeared in the news this week concerning lifestyle and I’m combining both sections. Most of us drink more coffee than cocoa so I’ll start with that one.
Over several decades it’s been a bumpy road for coffee – sometimes a villain, sometimes a hero. Actually it’s a bit of both but not if you watch how much you drink. (Hmmm – doesn’t that sound like it might apply to red wine?)
One benefit of coffee that I have mentioned in previous posts is that coffee is the single most common source of antioxidants in the U.S. That’s because most Americans have such a meager intake of fruits and vegetables, which for many millennia were the most abundant source of these inflammation-fighting nutrients.
Overall, drinking one or two cups of coffee does have health benefits but the trouble begins with larger amounts. In a UK study of more than half a million (!) participants, it was found that drinking SIX or more cups of coffee a day is associated with smaller brain volume and a 53% increased risk of dementia. Other studies have shown an association between high intakes of coffee and Alzheimer’s disease – something to consider if you have a family history of that malady.
A cup or two of coffee at breakfast and one or two cups with dinner won’t shrink your brain but most studies show that you’ll avoid some diseases and you’ll certainly be in a better mood most of the day.
There’s nothing like a cup of hot chocolate after a day on the ski slopes (or after shoveling out your sidewalk and driveway of snow) but we’re in the middle of summer, many of us have forsworn cold norther climates and now enjoy life in sunny Southern California, Arizona or Texas. But here’s some good news.
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) limits one’s ability to walk and with the dramatic rise in the incidence of type 2 diabetes it is increasing steadily in our population. There is some good news from Northwestern University in Chicago. The study was small, only 44 patients, but the researchers found that those who drank a flavanol-rich chocolate drink three times a day for six months improved their ability to walk over six minutes by about 50 feet. That doesn’t sound like much unless your lifestyle has been severely limited by PAD – so that now you can walk to the mailbox without pain.
So can a dark chocolate bar have the same effect? The only study that I found said that it does not 😦 but they only gave the participants one and a half ounces of chocolate and only took measurements on two consecutive days. Maybe the results would have been different if the patients ate 1 ½ ounces of dark chocolate every day for six months, as in the cocoa trial. That hardly sounds like a great burden. And I’d bet that some research group could find lots of volunteers for that study!