Chocolate powers and chocolate myths
“The greatest tragedies were written by the Greeks and Shakespeare … neither knew chocolate,” says Sandra Boynton, the author of the beloved birthday card “Hippo Birdie Two Ewes” and more than 50 children’s books.
Is that another reason Americans are feeling blue? Could be. The kind of chocolate you and your neighbors eat is often super-processed milk and white chocolates, which are stripped of many of the magic bean’s benefits — that’s about as bad as (or worse than) having no chocolate at all!
Instead, enjoy 70 percent cacao dark chocolate. It’s loaded with cocoa solids that contain health-boosting compounds like flavonoids. Enjoy hot chocolate made with walnut or almond milk (make sure they don’t contain the emulsifier carrageenan) and natural, unsweetened cocoa powder. It contains more flavonols (a type of flavonoid) than cocoa powder that’s Dutch-processed or alkalized.
Research shows that chocolate helps control blood pressure, fights cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, and improves athletic performance. But what it cannot do — at least not without help from other additives in a cough syrup — is treat your winter hack.
Despite headlines declaring chocolate is more effective than cough medicine, the researcher who published the study that gave rise to that claim makes it clear in an article on Health.com that the tested cough syrup, which contained the cocoa-based compound theobromine and antihistamine diphenhydramine, isn’t the same as a chocolate candy or drink.
So enjoy a daily ounce of dark chocolate for its health boost and flavor, and see your doc for reliable treatments for a dry or wet cough.
Is work making you fat?
In a fifth-season episode of “The Office,” the staff, including executive Michael (Steve Carell), decides to play a game of food catch. They start by throwing cheese puffs into each other’s mouths. By the end, they’re stuffing their newly orange-colored faces with the junky snack food. Michael gets 32 into his mouth at once!
We’ve all encountered such temptations at work, whether it’s Free Pizza Fridays, birthday cake for the boss, candy and soda in vending machines, or gloppy, fried stuff in the cafeteria.
Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published a report that looks at the work-food habits of 5,000 office workers. Turns out they consume about 1,292 excess calories a week above what they regularly eat for meals while at work. And 70 percent of those calories are coming from free food.
These foods can cause substantial weight gain and expose folks to unhealthy additives found in processed and packaged foods (emulsifiers in cheeses, hormone disruptors in plastic-wrapped foods and unhealthy fats).
Even though office camaraderie is associated with more happiness on the job and more productivity, start an office-wide campaign to make food choices healthier and snacks less frequent.
Also, suggest forming a lunch-time walking club. Your stress response at work to daily deadlines, demanding bosses and difficult colleagues just amps up the temptation to make poor food choices. Chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol increase your appetite! Shared physical activity (not including throwing cheese balls) helps dispel stress, builds team spirit and improves your overall health.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.