February 26, 2008
The Right Dose of Chocolate in Your Diet
|Many of my female weight loss clients have some form of chocolate in their diets, and they are very happy to find out after my initial diet assessment, that they do not have to give it all up. Chocolate can be incorporated into a healthy eating plan, just as many other types of food, as long as it is eaten in the right portion and with moderation.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and in 2008, an estimated 770,000 Americans will have a new coronary attack, and about 430,000 will have a recurrent attack. About every 26 seconds, an American will have a coronary event, and about one every minute will die from one. Now chocolate, by itself, is not going to prevent these occurrences. Attention to a heart healthy diet can help (see sidebar), weight control, exercise, taking medications properly and keeping regular appointments with your physician are all important; but including a little bit of chocolate in your diet, can make living more enjoyable.
Despite the evidence that dark chocolate may be beneficial to heart health, it is important to note that a small portion of dark chocolate is not a substitute for a heart healthy eating plan if you have heart disease or a family history of it. Weight control is the single best strategy to maintaining a healthy blood pressure and reducing risk factors for heart disease.
Consider these facts supported by recent research on chocolate and heart disease:
Studies have shown that small portions of dark chocolate are all that is needed for the health benefit. One study suggested that only one Hershey Kiss® daily reduced blood pressure in participants who had mildly elevated blood pressure. Other studies have shown that the benefit would occur with one ounce (see guide below) of dark chocolate in incorporated daily.
- Cocoa products contain greater antioxidant capacity and greater amounts of flavonoids per serving than all teas and red wines.
- The body of short-term randomized feeding trials suggests cocoa and chocolate may exert beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk via effects on lowering blood pressure, anti-inflammation, anti-platelet function, higher HDL (“good” cholesterol), decreased LDL oxidation (“bad” cholesterol)
- Studies of flavonoids suggests the flavonoid content of chocolate may reduce risk of cardiovascular mortality
Before you grab a chocolate bar, or a slab of chocolate cake, keep in mind that when cocoa is processed it goes through several steps to reduce its naturally pungent taste (the flavonoids provide this taste). The more processing, the more flavonoids lost, so you do want to choose simple dark chocolate varieties for the most benefit as they contain the most flavonoids per calorie.
Here is your portion guide for enjoying your daily dark chocolate dose:
- Dove dark miniatures, 2-3 pieces
- Two squares of a dark chocolate bar (about a 1 inch square)
- Hershey Special Dark Kisses, 3-5 kisses
February 2, 2008
Fill your kitchen with healthy options and snack well
By Rosanne Rust
Okay, so you are making progress with your dietary goals. One sure way to support your goals is to have all the healthy options you need at your fingertips.
When choosing food at the market, read labels, looking at calories, fat and fiber. Fill your kitchen with fiber rich fruits and vegetables as well as low fat, high fiber snacks. Choose whole grain breads, cereals and pasta. Fill your refrigerator with nonfat or low fat dairy products and lean beef, lean pork, skinless chicken and fish.
A variety of foods in your refrigerator will help insure a variety of foods in your diet. While you do want to include some fresh fruits and vegetables, you can also keep a supply of canned and frozen items available too. These come in handy when you cannot get to the store.
You also want to limit the “junk” food that you have around. Do not stock your pantry with chips and cookies for instance. Hold off buying these for special occasions when you have a crowd. Then you can have a taste, but the bag won’t be around to tempt you afterward.
Consider these healthy choices for snack time:
- Sliced apple with peanut butter
- Low fat light yogurt
- One half cup of cereal with 4 ounces low fat milk
- One piece of string cheese with 4 low fat wheat crackers
- Half a pita spread with hummus
Keep it fad-free: Stock your kitchen with healthy choices so you can plan quick and delicious meals. Fill you freezer, refrigerator and pantry with the right stuff; and don’t forget to keep your body in motion. Enjoy eating and lose weight!