By James Barber M.D.
Just as you have resided to the fact that there is nothing you can eat or drink
these days that won't lead to cancer or heart disease, a ray of light comes through
the dark. Dark chocolate that is. Recent news has shown some encouraging results
about different components of the treat that may be good for us.
A German study reported by Dr. Frank Messerli, a hypertension expert at the Ochsner
Clinic Foundation in New Orleans, suggests that eating dark chocolate can lower
your blood pressure. Dr. Messerli states that if the results can continue to be
confirmed then "you can sin with perhaps a little less bad feeling". The study consisted
of thirteen adults with mild hypertension, each of whom ate a three ounce chocolate
bar every day for two weeks. Half of the participants took white chocolate, while
the rest used dark chocolate. In the two weeks, the dark chocolate group showed
a drop in diastolic (the lower number) and systolic (the top number) blood pressure
by two and five points, respectively. The white chocolate group saw no results at
What makes the darker variety a better bang for your caloric buck? One reason may
be linked to past research from the United Kingdom and Australia, where theophylline
and a group of caffeine-like components in dark chocolate and coffee have helped
block the mechanisms in our bodies that cause disease-triggering inflammation. Dark
chocolate also contains polyphenols, the same substance to which scientists attribute
the benefits of red wine. The University of Cologne's Dr. Dirk Taubert, who was
the lead author of the German study discussed earlier, feels that this study shows
promise to lowering systolic blood pressure. He believes that the isolation of polyphenols
may be a help to regulating blood pressure receptors, and could be a new medication
in the near future.
It is important to realize that chocolate, like any other good thing, is best when
enjoyed in moderation. A few Hershey Kisses may be good, but making out with a whole
stack of Snickers will still lead to obesity and all that comes with it.
• Scientists are working on the first medication designed to help those allergic
to peanuts. The drug suppresses the nasty response the body has when it comes into
accidental contact with peanuts.
• Less stressful people may heal faster. An Ohio State University study measured
the healing period of blisters created on their married volunteers with a tiny vacuum.
People with lower instances of cortisol, a stress hormone, healed more quickly than
overstressed individuals with high cortisol levels. It is worth noting that all
of the people with low cortisol levels also reported to be the happiest in their
• Many people having been reaching past the diet soda cans on the shelves these
days. They elect to take there chances with high-calorie, sugary drinks rather than
the reportedly toxic sweetener Aspartame. New reports from Europe's Scientific Committee
on Food calm these fears by stating that in their ten years of studying the sugar-substitute
they have found no links to cancer or any other side effects.
Words of Wisdom:
"Dying is a very dull, dreary affair. And my advice to you is to have nothing whatever
to do with it." -W. Somerset Maugham