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Red Wine & Dark Chocolate

Posted by Marc Siegel on Jan 7, 2013 9:18:00 AM

It was just holiday time and all the dieting rules were out the window. People ate and drank as if they have never seen food before. Some people were literally eating and drinking until they felt sick! But at every party I went to, there was always someone going on about how red wine and dark chocolate are good for you. red wine dark chocolateThey claim that the intake of Anti-Oxidants in the red wine, and the dark chocolate, as well as the flavonoids in the dark chocolate are good for your heart. Are they correct? Is it just a myth?

According to the American Heart Association there has been NO CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE showing that red wine has positive benefits for your health. I will quote the AHA website “The linkage reported in many of these studies (red wine on your health), may be due to other lifestyle factors rather than alcohol. Such factors may include increased physical activity, and a diet high in fruits and vegetables and lower in saturated fats. NO direct comparison trials have been done to determine the specific effect of wine or other alcohol on the risk of developing heart disease or stroke.”1

As a matter of fact, The American Heart Association performed a survey of 1000 American adults, and 76% thought that drinking wine was good for your heart. Furthermore, only 30% of those surveyed knew the American Heart Associations recommended limits for daily wine consumption, which is eight ounces for men and four ounces for women.2

So while you are chug-a-lugging your yummy Pinot Noir, try to stop before glass number three.

Now, let’s talk about dark chocolate. According to the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension (August issue) eating cocoa flavanols daily may improve mild cognitive impairment.3 A study showed that insulin resistance and blood glucose levels significantly improved in the participants who drank mid to high levels of cocoa flavanols, but not in those drinking low levels.

In the study 90 elderly participants with mild cognitive impairment were randomized to drink either a 990mg (high), 520mg (intermediate) or 45mg (low) dairy-based cocoa flavored drink for eight weeks.

Tests such as executive function, working memory, short-term memory, long term episodic memory, processing speed and global cognition were conducted:

Below is a basic summary of what the researchers found:

"Scores significantly improved in motor responses, working memory, task switching, and verbal memory in the group consuming high and intermediate flavanol drinks.

Insulin resistance, blood pressure, and oxidative stress decreased in those drinking high and intermediate levels of flavanols daily. Changes in insulin resistance explained about 40% of the composite scores for improvements in cognitive functioning."4

So now that it is cold here in New York, break out the hot cocoa!

1 "Alcoholic Beverages and Cardiovascular Disease." Updated March 31, 2011. Web.
2 Hendrick, Bill. "Wine, Salt, and Your Heart: Confusion Abounds." WebMD. Ed. Laura J. Martin, MD. WebMD, 26 Apr. 2011. Web.
3,4 "Consuming Flavanol-rich Cocoa May Enhance Brain Function." Welcome to the AHA/ASA Newsroom. N.p., 13 Aug. 2012. Web.

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Topics: health, nutrition, myth or fact

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