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Does reading about healthy eating ever seem confusing?
Red wine, chocolate and grapes are foods that are said to help us look younger, stave off aging and prevent heart disease. True or false? Resveratrol-a phytonutritent in red wine, dark chocolate, grapes, berries, various herbs and peanuts has been associated with increased longevity and reduced rates of cancer and heart disease.1 Yet a recent study declared that consuming resveratrol has little or no benefit in preventing heart disease, reducing the rate of cancer or preventing strokes.2
Evaluating a single nutrient’s benefit is challenging when subjects in the test pool are not following the same strictly controlled diet ….I believe the jury is still out on possible benefits of resveratrol.
What's the real story?
All natural foods contain phytonutrients which enhance our body’s ability to neutralize toxic chemicals called “free radicals” that promote aging and fermentation and increase the build up of artery clogging plaque.3
Rather than focusing on one phytonutrient like reseveratrol. Let’s take a look at the other benefits of these foods……
What's so great about grapes?
Grapes and grape juice contain abundant levels of Vitamins C & A, B vitamins and folic acid and the minerals manganese, potassium, copper, zinc, calcium, phosphorus, iron and selenium.
These nutrients can reduce high blood pressure, boost your immune response and help with depression and maintain healthy blood. Nitric oxide in grapes helps to prevent plaque formation in the arteries and reducing blood clots and inflammation in the cardiovascular system. Saponin another compound in grapes helps to improves cholesterol levels and reduces inflammation in heart disease. A surprising benefit of grapes is that they have unusual antimicrobial properties that can neutralize negative bacteria in the stomach and intestines like E. coli, Salmonella and H. pylori.
What about red wine?
To a lesser extent wine has the same benefits as eating fresh grapes. Wine helps many people feel relaxed and happy which also relaxes the cardiovascular system. It can get tricky when people feel like they need to have alcohol in large quantities or on a daily basis. No matter how many phytonutrients we find in red wine- too much alcohol can play havoc with healthy blood sugar metabolism and lead to addiction problems.
Is chocolate really that cool?
Many studies have indicated that dark chocolate can lower the rate of heart disease and even reduce the risk of any disease.
At first the phytonuteint-flavonol was considered to be responsible for these benefits but new research has found an unlikely cause for chocolate’s health building effects.
Fiber not flavonols:
Natural, raw unsweetened cocoa is not easily digested. As it passes into the stomach and small intestines it interacts with our healthy intestinal bacteria and produces an anti-inflammatory response. As the cocoa fiber comes in contact with our naturally occurring intestinal bacteria a natural fermentation process begins which releases compounds that break down cholesterol and improve our blood lipid levels.
Our very healthy intestinal bacteria –called lactobacillus responds to the cocoa fiber with a dramatic increase in it's numbers. This enhances our overall immune response. When our healthy bacteria levels are high they can decrease the presence and number of potentially negative disease producing bacteria that also live in the gut.
Say what? That’s right -pure natural unsweetened cocoa without sugar, extra fat or enhanced flavorings improves our immune response, lowers cholesterol and reduces inflammation in the body. 4
Sadly the delicious chocolate we all know and love is high in fat and sugar with extra flavorings. None of the things that make it taste so good increase these desirable health benefits.
In the same way that modest amounts of red wine can help people feel happy and more relaxed eating modest amounts of chocolate can produce similar effects and when people feel happy and relaxed it improves cardiovascular health makes and makes us feel good.
Can you learn to like unsweetened cocoa nibs mixed into your breakfast cereal or your green salad? What about eating 4-5 ozs of grapes so that you get the added benefit of the fiber and increased antioxidants instead of drinking a small glass of red wine.
I did ask Siri what she thinks. Are red wine, chocolate and grapes good for me?
“Please stop pairing red wind and chocolate…dry red wine and chocolate do not go well together. …
Resveratrol found in red wine , chocolate and grapes may not improve your health…..
Chocolate covered grape truffles will definitely make a spectacular finish to any meal……..”
Oh dear even Siri isn't sure about this.....
What about just eating more fruits and vegetables?
Yes- healthy amounts of fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of strokes In a deep analysis of 20 studies published in the past 19 years which evaluated 760,629 people and 16,981 strokes it was established that stroke risk decreased by 32% with every 200 grams /1 cup of fruit consumed each day and there was an 11% decrease with every 200 grams/1 cup of vegetables eaten each day.5
All I’m saying is -If you want to eat chocolate and red wine think about having them with some grapes or water cress or spinach, chard, apples, strawberries, banana, papaya etc. These fruits and vegetables are also very high in the health protecting phytonutrients.
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