I’m sure most of you have heard that you should have a glass of red wine every night to help lower your risk of a heart attack or that eating a piece of chocolate everyday is a heart healthy choice that can prevent some cancers. But are these sayings really true?
Benefits: The ingredient that is the most effective in red wine is the grape seed skin. These skins house powerful anti-oxidants that are known to increase good cholesterol (HDL) and decrease bad cholesterol (LDL). Flavoniods (those powerful anti-oxidants) are also known for reducing blood clots and plaque in the arteries and Resveratrol (anti-oxidant) has been shown to aid in the development of nerve cells which in turn can help treat neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Risks: Most researchers and doctors will stress to watch the amount of alcohol you consume. A serving size of wine is just 4 ounces, which is a relatively small portion. As with all excessive alcohol consumption there are risks such as hypertryglyceridemia, pancreatitis, liver disease, uncontrolled hypertension, depression and congestive heart failure so moderation is KEY here. Also be aware that wine is a form of empty calories (high in calories and low in nutritional value) and excess amount can lead to weight gain.
Type of wine to consume: There are some red wines that are higher in anti-oxidants than others. When shopping for the right one look for Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Syrah and Pinot Noir wines.
Benefits: Besides the heavenly taste chocolate is full of anti-oxidants. Flavoniods are the most common and powerful anti-oxidant found in chocolate as well and along with heart health has also been shown to protect the body from many illnesses, some cancers and general aging. However, chocolate has a special ingredient called phenylethylamine which is better known as the chemical your brains produces when you fall in love. This chemical is responsible for your pounding heart and excitement in your chest when you see your significant other or your favorite candy bar. And lastly the sweetness of chocolate triggers the release of endorphins giving you that blissful feeling like you are on cloud 9.
Risks: The calorie count is the most important thing to watch when it comes to consuming chocolate. Researchers suggest you eat 1 ounce of chocolate per day, which is about 3 pieces of a Hershey’s bar (so 1 chocolate bar has about 4 serving in it).
Type of chocolate to consumer: Don’t be fooled not all chocolate is packed full of anti-oxidants. Your safest bet is to stick with dark chocolates. Processed chocolates such as Hershey’s, Nestle’s, most Dutch chocolates and any milk chocolates have very few anti-oxidants left in them anymore.
The Verdict: in moderation these two products can help you on your path to being happy, being healthy.