Touro Infirmary

FALL 2013

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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H E A L T H Y E A T I N G The new craze cocoa By Bev Bennett C ocoa stirs up warm associations: hot chocolate after a brisk autumn walk, homemade chocolate pudding for dessert on a chilly evening. Now scientific evidence suggests that cocoa, the feel-good flavoring, may be very good for you: Including cocoa in your diet may reduce your risk of heart disease and improve insulin resistance. In fact, as healthy indulgences go, cocoa may rival or even surpass dark chocolate. HELPING HEART HEALTH "All the evidence seems to agree that there are positive cardio and metabolic effects [from cocoa], and we don't see any negative effects such as raising triglycerides," says Eric Ding, a nutritionist and epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. Ding's research, which reviewed and analyzed previous studies, suggests that cocoa may reduce blood pressure and LDL ("bad") cholesterol and increase HDL ("good") cholesterol, while not affecting total cholesterol or triglyceride levels. And at last year's meeting of the American Chemical Society, an entire symposium was devoted to cocoa's health benefits, which may include treating migraines. BEHIND THE BENEFITS What gives cocoa its potential benefits? For one, cocoa is rich in flavonols, a distinct group of plant substances that help protect the plant from toxins and repair damage. In people, flavonols may increase the formation of nitric oxide, which promotes vasodilation, reducing blood pressure. In addition, cocoa contains plant sterols that may also provide heart benefits, according to Dr. Timothy S. Harlan, assistant professor of clinical medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. 6 SPI RIT O F WOM EN FA L L 2 013 w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m

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