Daily Vlog 11/22/11: Smooth Diabetes

June 10, 2020 by  

Daily Vlog 11/22/11: Smooth Diabetes
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Eat All That Chocolate

December 6, 2012 by  

Are you craving chocolate yet?  What if I told you not to eat it and that it would make you fat?  Now how do you feel about eating it?  Are you mad-jonesing for it?

That’s what a recent study found.  A joint research team of the University of Western Australia and the University of Strathclyde in Scotland found that when a group of 80 women were presented with videos or images warning that chocolate could lead to obesity that they were more likely to crave it.  When shown images of thin models, their desire to eat chocolate increased while their food consumption desire decreased.

The study that appears in the journal Appetite, while interesting, highlights a problem we are probably all aware of but do little to acknowledge.  We want to do the things people don’t want us to.  There is a part of human nature that enjoys rebelling against a system of order.  And when people are dieting, the life of their eating habits is a system of order.

It is actually the lack of discipline relating to rebellion that is the reason why many diets fail.  Because diets, and worse yet fad diets, are short term solutions that are often not adopted as permanent lifestyle changes.  Any short term benefits of dieting are often lost very quickly when the diet ends and a person reverts back to their normal eating habits.

It’s the big changes to our habits that we have the biggest problem dealing with.  There is often a short-term immediate acceptance but in the long run we’ll naturally want to go back to an old way of doing things.

Instead of trying to make sudden sweeping changes to your habits consider small changes.  Nutritionists have seen better long-term results when people adopt smaller changes to their eating habits.

When you start small think of how many calories you take in each day.  Are you drinking three cans of soda a day?  Could you live with two?  Are you getting the fast food combo with large fries and a drink?  Maybe go medium instead, that is if you absolutely need to have that fast food meal.

Do you find yourself constantly snacking in front of your television or your computer?  What is it that you’re snacking on?  Is it cookies or chips?  When you sit down to browse your queued instant videos or check your email, consider putting a bowl of baby carrots in front of you.  Health experts have found that people have a tendency to reach for and snack on whatever is close at hand.  If what’s close at hand just happens to be a healthy fruit or vegetable snack it could be much better for your belly than a box of doughnuts.

Little changes to your fitness can be adopted as well.  It can be as simple as just parking your car a little further away from the entrance to the shopping mall.  If you’re walking up a few floors in a building take the stairs instead.  If you are going up thirty floors though it is probably just fine to take the elevator so you don’t show up at your business meeting sweating and huffing and puffing.  If you do have the gusto to climb thirty flights of stairs then go for it!

When you step into 2013 for the first time and think about that most common of mantras people like to attempt every time a New Year starts, think about taking small steps.  When somebody tells you not to eat chocolate because it will make you fat don’t just eat that chocolate out of spite.  Take small steps and pay attention to your habits when it comes to eating and you may find that positive change may be coming your way.

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How to have a happy and healthy Halloween

October 28, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Halloween is just around the corner. That is why I’ve brought you today a round-up of what I feel are useful tips for a healthy and safe Halloween.

Halloween candy: Facts and myths
There are fears that Halloween treats poisoned but this is highly unlikely, according to experts. Instead, what we should be scared off are the calories, the sugars and the transfats. Health and nutrition experts at the University of North Carolina explain the facts and myths about Halloween candies, covering the following claims:

Check it out so you will know “how to tell truth from fiction as you stay safe and well on Halloween.”

Trick-or-treaters’ Halloween candy often picked off by parents
How’s these for Halloween statistics:

With these figures in mind, health experts are hoping the everyone – adults and children alike – will be practicing moderation this coming Sunday.

For healthy pumpkin, squash the urge to turn it into pie
Last week, I baked a pumpkin pie for the first time for my family and they didn’t like it. Pumpkin pie as Americans know it – sweet and full of calories – is not something to be easily found in Europe. Because pumpkins are seldom eaten here sweet. We do eat lots of pumpkin soup as well as pureed pumpkin. But never tried nor heard of pumpkin pudding or pumpkin doughnuts before. This article in USA Today gives a couple of alternative, low-fat, low-calorie recipes for pumpkins.

Tips to Green Your Halloween
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) gives us some tips on how to celebrate Halloween safely and toxic-free.
In particular, EWG warns consumers about the potentially harmful products in face paints, hairsprays and costumes. It gives recommendation on more natural alternatives in terms of make ups, treats, decorations and food.

Halloween the Healthy Way
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also sharing with us special Halloween tips with the following take home message: “Don’t be tricked this Halloween. Make better lifestyle choices to keep you and your family safe and healthy.” For this purpose, CDC has Halloween health e-cards for you to use and share – in English and in Spanish. Check them out!

Easter chocolate: small and dark is healthy

April 2, 2010 by  

Just in time for Easter!

Researchers at the German Institute of Human Nutrition say it is okay –actually healthy – to eat chocolate this Easter – as long as they are small and dark.

How small?

7.5 g which is just about a small square from a 100-gram chocolate bar or a very small chocolate egg.

How dark?

The more cacao the better, at least 70% of cocoa is advisable. The researchers looked at the effects of chocolate consumption for over a decade on the health of 19,300 people. Those who ate the most chocolate experienced more cardiovascular benefits such us lower blood pressure  and 39% lower risk for stroke heart attack than those who ate less.

This might sound like great news for chocoholics and chocolate manufacturers. But before you stuff yourself with sweet dark Easter goodies, take note that the highest consumption – 7.5 g – isn’t really much. There is no data showing whether higher chocolate consumption brings more benefits.

According to researcher Gary Buijsse

“Small amounts of chocolate may help to prevent heart disease, but only if it replaces other energy-dense food, such as snacks, in order to keep body weight stable.”

So what is it in dark chocolate that benefits our heart health?

Antioxidants, specifically flavonols, also found in red grapes and berries and vegetables.

Flavanols appear to be … responsible for improving the bioavailability of nitric oxide from the cells that line the inner wall of blood vessels. Nitric oxide is a gas that, once released, causes the smooth muscle cells of the blood vessels to relax and widen, [and] that this may contribute to lower blood pressure.

So why can’t we just eat as much chocolate as we want to avoid cardiovascular problems? Well, the chocolate that we get from the supermarket is a processed product which contains sugar, milk, and other additives. A 100-g chocolate bar contains about 500 calories. The beneficial decrease in blood pressure will be cancelled by the adverse effect of weight gain.

Like most things in life, moderation is the key word. Chocolate is good for you, but too much of a good thing can turn bad. Happy Easter!

Chocolate against stress?

November 17, 2009 by  
Filed under STRESS

chocolate_boxesChocolate has always been considered a major enemy of healthy living. But recent studies show that thre might be a good side to this dark temptation.

In the third book of the Harry Potter series ,Harry  collapsed after being  attacked by dementors on the train to Hogwarts. His teacher Prof Lupin gave him a very unusual, yet effective treatment: a chocolate bar. It might just be a story but author Joanne Rowling seems to know something about chocolates and stress.

A new researcher study published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Proteome Research reveals that there might be something to the so-called chocolate therapy for emotional stress. The report continues to that eating 40 grams (about an ounce and a half) of dark chocolate a day during a period of two weeks can modify the metabolism and reduce levels of stress hormones in the bodies of people feeling highly stressed.

The Swiss and German researchers looked at 30 participants (11 men and 19 women aged 18 to 35 years) who were otherwise healthy except for stress. The levels of emotional anxiety were measured through questionnaires and urine and blood plasma samples were collected  regularly during the 14-day study period. The participants were classified according to their anxiety state and those with higher stress levels had a distinct metabolic profile based on blood and urine tests. However, daily consumption of 40 g of dark chocolate  for two weeks resulted in reduction of the stress hormone cortisol and also partially normalized stress-related differences in energy metabolism and gut microbial activities. The chocolate used in the study was Noir Intense by Nestle, which contained 74% cocoa solids. A 20 g bar was consumed as snack at midmorning and another one at midafternoon.

But what is in the chocolate that counteracts stress? It is not fully known but chocolate is known to contain antioxidants that are beneficial to heart health.

The authors conclude:

The study provides strong evidence that a daily consumption of 40 g of dark chocolate during a period of 2 weeks is sufficient to modify the metabolism of free living and healthy human subjects, as per variation of both host and gut microbial metabolism.

However, we shouldn’t forget that too much of a good thing can be bad. Dark chocolate may be good for our health but white chocolate is not. And remember that chocolate bars, even if dark,  still contains some sugar and fat that can be fattening and unhealthy if taken in large amounts. So remember, this and other similar studies on the benefit of chocolate do not give you the license to gorge on chocolate. Moderation is still the key to everything.

The dark side of chocolate: healthy and heart-friendly

January 6, 2009 by  

Resource post for January

Have you ever looked at the chocolate section in the supermarket lately? I’m sure many of us do not, to avoid temptation. After all, chocolate is the number enemy of weight watchers, diabetics, heart patients, and health-conscious parents. Or is it? Lately, more and more studies indicate that chocolate can have a healthy side – and it is the dark side.

No wonder chocolate manufacturers are reinventing chocolate. We now have dark chocolates with up to 90% cacao content, chocolates which are sugar-free, with low-fat. And yes – even chocolate for diabetics.

Chocolate research

Now, before we go on, let’s take a look at the research studies on the health effects of chocolate.

Effects of low habitual cocoa intake on blood pressure and bioactive nitric oxide
This study by German researchers evaluated the effect of dark chocolate on the blood pressure of adults with prehypertension and stage 1 hypertension. The 44 study participants were randomly assigned into two groups. One group was given 6.3 g of dark chocolate per day (equivalent to 30 kcal, with 30 mg of polyphenols) for 18 weeks. The other group was given polyphenol-free chocolate of the same quantity for the same duration. The study results showed that from baseline to 18 weeks, dark-chocolate intake reduced mean systolic BP by 2.9 mm Hg (p<0.001) and diastolic BP by 1.9 mm Hg (p<0.001) without changes in body weight, lipids, glucose, or 8-isoprostane. Hypertension prevalence decreased from 86% to 68%.”

Dark chocolate improves coronary vasomotion and reduces platelet reactivity
This study by Swiss researchers at the Zurich University Hospital investigated the effect of polyphenol-rich dark chocolate in the health outcomes of 22 heart transplant patients. An intake of 40 g of dark chocolate with 70% cocoa “induces coronary vasodilation, improves coronary vascular function, and decreases platelet adhesion 2 hours after consumption. These immediate beneficial effects were paralleled by a significant reduction of serum oxidative stress and were positively correlated with changes in serum epicatechin concentration.”

Cocoa consumption for 2 wk enhances insulin-mediated vasodilatation without improving blood pressure or insulin resistance in essential hypertension
This study by American researchers investigated the effects of effects of dark chocolate on insulin sensitivity in people with high blood pressure. The study participants were given 150 mL flavanol-rich cocoa drink two times a day equivalent to approximately 900 mg of flavanols per day for two weeks. The results showed that cocoa treatment at the said dose “did not significantly reduce blood pressure or improve insulin resistance and had no significant effects on skeletal muscle capillary recruitment, circulating plasma concentrations of adipocytokines, or endothelial adhesion molecules… [and] … wasnot sufficient to reduce blood pressure or improve insulin resistance in human subjects with essential hypertension.” However, it was shown to enhance insulin-mediated vasodilation.

Dark chocolate fights heart woes
A study by Japanese researchers showed that eating dark chocolate improves blood flow to the heart muscles. The study participants were 39 male adults who were given either dark chocolate (with 550 mg polyphenols) or white chocolate (no polyphenols) every day for 2 weeks. It was observed that coronary blood circulation significantly improved after 2 weeks in the group given dark chocolate but not those who ate white chocolate.

Cocoa could be a healthy treat for diabetic patients
Yet another study by American researchers evaluated the effect of chocolate on the functioning of vessels among diabetic patients. The study reported that after diabetic patients drank specially formulated high-flavanol cocoa for one month, blood vessel function went from severely impaired to normal.” The vascular improvement observed was comparable to those brought about by exercise and common diabetic medications.

What makes dark chocolate healthy?

For chocolate, the darker, the better and the darkest secret of chocolate is in the cacao polyphenol. Cocoa, the raw powder from the cacao plant, is rich in polyphenols, compounds which have cardioprotective and antioxidation properties. Polyphenols are also found in many plant products such as tea, grapes, walnutsolive oil, and many other fruits and vegetables.

Cacao polyphenol is a flavonoid, which is a subgroup of polyphenols. It is estimated that cacao polyphenol contains four times as much flavonoids per serving than either tea or red wine.


Does this mean we can gobble as much chocolate as we want?

Not really. Remember: “Life is just like a box of chocolates. You never know what you get.”

The studies described here were performed under strict conditions where the quality of the chocolate, the sugar as well as the fat content, are controlled and standardized. This is not like that in the real-life chocolates as we know them – the ones that come in boxes. In other words, we really don’t know what we are getting in terms of flavonoid content. This is because chocolate flavonoid content depends on many things, including:

  • The type of cacao beans
  • The processing (e.g. roasting, temperature, fermentation)
  • The additives

Thus, the percentage of cacao in a bar of chocolate is not really a sure indication of flavonoid content.

And, we know that too much of a good thing can be bad and that also applies to chocolates. Chocolate may have flavonoids but it also contains fat and calories that can make you gain weight.

So, no, we cannot use chocolate as the next “wonder health food” and go on an “all-chocolate diet.” But we can indulge ourselves every now and then without feeling guilty or concerned for our health.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Dark Chocolate and Flavanols

August 14, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

It’s amazing what can spark a topic for a blog post.

Here’s today’s inspiration. Dove Rich Dark Chocolate.

I actually am facing down the large tablet bar myself.

But do you see that little label with the heart? NATURAL SOURCE OF COCOA FLAVANOLS.

“Enjoy the rich dark taste of DOVE® Dark Chocolate, now in a large tablet bar. DOVE® Dark Chocolate Large Bars are perfect for multiple occasions, including everyday indulgence, baking/cooking, dessert and “anywhere” enjoyment.”

Nutritional Information

Serving Size: 1/3 bar
Servings Per Container: 3

Calories 170
Calories from Fat 100

Total Fat: 11g | % Daily Value: 17%
Saturated Fat: 6 g | % Daily Value: 30%
Trans Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 5 mg | % Daily Value: 2%

Now 170 calories isn’t too bad. Okay it’s not as good as eating blueberries…but turns out that dark chocolate is good for you.

Raise your hand if you remember what flavanols are!

Flavanols are a class of flavonoids…which we discussed in What’s an Antioxidant? on Battling Cancer.

Cocoa is the ingredient in chocolate that hold the flavanol key to antioxidant activity of free radicals.

Basically an antioxidant is capable of counteracting the normal damaging effects of oxidation by neutralizing free radicals in the body. The balance of antioxidants to oxidants is disturbed by poor diet, smoking, disease, normal aging, x-rays and many other things. When an antioxidant neutralizes a free radical, the antioxidant becomes oxidized and the body needs to be resupplied with antioxidants.

Let’s translate that to: eat more dark chocolate. (I have half a bar left)

Sure there are other ways to consume flavanols (like tea ) but what could be more decadent than a finely processed dark chocolate bar? (The amount of flavanols depends on the processing, so avoid cheap chocolate.)

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Chocolate For Cancer?

June 25, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

chocolate.jpgThat’s right. Chocolate for cancer.

This story certainly perked up my ears.

A recent study from Georgetown University has shown that the same cocoa beans used to make chocolate have a chemical which kills tumors in the laboratory setting. Specifically they are using synthetic procyanidins, a class of flavanols. We have discussed the anti-oxidant property of flavanols on Battling Cancer .

Flavonoids: Found in brewed tea. Flavonoids are also found in dark chocolate. An interesting clinical trial on dark chocolate is found on WebMD. Studies are now showing the impact on flavonoids in various types of cancer, such as prostrate and ovarian cancer as noted at ScienceDaily.

The synthetic flavanols known as GECGC, are patented by the Mars Company. Yes, the same company that makes Mars bars.

The testing utilized amounts of flavanols that a person might eat or use.

The study’s lead author, Min Kim said” “Overall, GECGC showed the most effect in treating cancer cells that are normally fast growing. And in fact it demonstrated the most killing power in colon cancer that suggests the chemical could serve as a promising therapeutic for colon cancer.”

Source: The Times of India

Pride Before The Fall: Baking

February 12, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

I wrote this yesterday, it was intended to give you a smile to begin your week. Thanks to raving children and blustery weather that knocked out my power a few times, you will have your laugh today.

What a day. Really, this has been one of the most frustrating ever.

I had planned on bringing you a great review on the recipe I had posted from The Big Book of Diabetic Desserts. The weather was so nasty, freezing winds and tempatures that would make even the Abominable Snowman think twice before stepping out of his cave.

I ended up going out in this mess, but that’s another story for another day.

Looking forward to trying a delicious Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter cake, because chocolate and peanut butter is a match from heaven, I began the process of setting up everything just right. Measured out the ingredients, found the hidden jar of the ‘good stuff’ (which translates into all natural organic peanut butter), then brought out the bowls, and preheated the oven. All was well with the world.

Until . . . (cue the music, da da daaaaa)

I found that my supply of baking powder has been mysteriously bakingpowdernapped. Ok, that’s not a word, Works Processor says so, but we’ll pretend it is. So, the kitchen guru that is me decided to use a little extra baking soda mixed with cream of tartar. Whoops, no cream of tartar. Hm, ok, so Arrowroot powder looks like C.O.T., let’s try that.

Afterwards, all goes well. The cake bakes up perfectly with a gorgeous golden color and an aroma that wafts through the kitchen like a peanut butter dream. I rack it and smile when the cake slides from the pan with no effort at all. Sliced, it sits on the saucer, ready to be drizzled with chocolate.

I couldn’t wait to taste this. My mother was ready to take a bite of a diabetic wonderland filled with her favorite tastes. I decorated the slices for her, my children, and me with pride.

Um. Isn’t it the old saying that pride goeth before a fall?

We all took a taste of this decadent creation, then silence fell. Eyes dropped to our plates or forks, the cake was given a wary look. What in heaven’s name was wrong with this cake? It tasted like poison, or at least it would if poison tasted like soap.

Quietly, the confection was placed in the trash, it resides there still. I have learned a lesson, never, ever substitute baking powder with baking soda . . . Unless soap is the flavor you crave.

The Big Book Of Diabetic Desserts

February 5, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

I just do not know how it could get any better.

Really, I don’t.
I received the press release and a copy of The Big Book Of Diabetic Desserts by Jackie Mills, MS, RD and I could not be happier! This book is filled with absolutely decadent desserts that anyone, not just diabetics will lust over. Many diabetics find themselves eating things that are devoid of taste, at least compared to what they are used to.

Not anymore!

Thanks to The Big Book Of Diabetic Desserts, diabetics can enjoy desserts with a real, true flavor to them. I truly wish the internet offered a scratch and sniff option! I have prepared the dessert that came with the press release, Chocolate-Drizzled Paenut Butter Cake, and friends . . . This has to be one of the very best cakes I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy.

I have to apologize, I did not take any pictures. Why? Because this cake literally did not make it to the top of the stove without having a chunk stolen! It smells that good . So, to allow you to enjoy the scent in your own home, I am sharing the recipe here. Once you try this cake, I can promise you that The Big Book Of Diabetic Desserts will be on your ‘to buy’ list.

A word of caution regarding the book.

I only noticed one issue with the book and that is that there are no table of contents. The type is large and each section does have a list of recipes, so this is not a huge downfall. I think you will enjoy the recipes too much to complain, just as I have.

Also, the recipes use real sugar in limited amounts. Jakie Mills is a Registered Dietician, so you can trust these recipes.

Chocolate-Drizzled Peanut Butter Cake

Makes 9 servings: Serving size: 1 (2 1/2 inch) square

For a lunch box, an after school treat, a bake sale, or a coffee break, this cake is a pleasing sweet for peanut butter lovers of all ages.

*1 cup all-purpose flour
*1 teaspoon baking powder
*1/2 teaspoon baking soda
*1/8 teaspoon salt
*1/4 cup natural peanut butter
*3 tablespoons canola oil
*1/3 cup granular no-calorie sweetener
*1/3 cup light brown sugar
*1 large egg
*3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1/2 ounce semisweet chocolate baking bar, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Coat an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to mix well. Set aside.

Combine the peanut butter and oil in a medium bowl and beat at medium speed until smooth. Beat in the no-calorie sweetener and brown sugar. Beat in the egg. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to the peanut butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely on the rack.

Place the chocolate in a small resealable zip-top bag and seal. Place the bag in a saucepan of hot water. Let stand 5 minutes or until the chocolate melts. Snip a tiny corner from bag and drizzle chocolate over the cake. The cake can be covered in an airtight container and stored at room temperature up to 3 days.

Exchanges 1 1/2 Carbohydrate
2 Fat
Calories 193, Calories from Fat 86, Total Fat 10 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 24 mg, Sodium 204 mg, Total Carbohydrate 23 g, Dietary Fiber 1 g, Sugars 11 g, Protein 5 g

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.