Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

The Unexpected Perks of Chocolate Cupcake Day

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

1364674_34314759Everyone loves a tasty cupcake. Lucky for chocoholics, this Friday, Oct. 18, is National Chocolate Cupcake Day. You might think that National Chocolate Cupcake Day would be a pain for dentists; however, dark cocoa can actually be good for your teeth. Yes, you read correctly. In small doses, this drool-worthy food can be healthy.

Chocolate’s good for your smile
Dark chocolate is loaded with disease-fighting flavonoids, which are antioxidants found in many fruits, vegetables and red wine. In fact, it appears chocolate contains more of them than any other food. Meanwhile, in your mouth, there’s a bacterium called oral streptococci that erodes your tooth enamel. The antioxidants in dark cocoa prevent the bacteria from turning into damaging acids by acting as an antibacterial compound.

These antioxidants also reduce inflammation in the body and help lower the risk of gingivitis, or the swelling of the gums.

It gets even better. Cocoa butter, a pure vegetable oil found within the plant, layers your teeth to fight off dental plaque and other bacteria. So, keep on showering your loved one with those cocoa butter kisses.

What are the overall health benefits of chocolate?
Since oral health is intertwined with your overall health, it’s important to look at the big picture. Eating a few squares of dark cocoa daily may reduce your risk of heart attack, according to a study led by Diane Becker MPH, ScD, a researcher with the John Hopkins University School of Medicine. Becker discovered that blood platelets clotted more slowly in patients who ate dark chocolate compared to those who didn’t. In essence, flavanols lower cell damage involved in heart disease.

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Doctor’s Orders: Have a Cup of Cocoa a Day

Monday, August 26th, 2013

828353_79331045A new study released in the August 7 issue of Neurology possibly found a new preventative measure for aging adults fighting memory loss and dementia. No, it’s not eating a greater quantity of healthier foods and exercising – although that helps! Researchers found that seniors who drank two cups of hot cocoa every day for a month performed better on memory and thinking exams than those who didn’t have the chocolaty drink.

The study included 60 people with the average age of 73, all of whom did not have dementia. For 30 days, the individuals were asked to consume two cups of hot cocoa each day, but refrain from eating any other chocolate for the duration of the study. Of the patients studied, 18 of them had impaired blood flow at the start of the study. Before partaking in the study, researchers also conducted MRI scans, which revealed that those with impaired blood flow had small clusters of brain damage compared to those with normal blood flow.

According to previous outside research, chocolate, and most notably dark chocolate, has many health benefits that can reduce blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, lower risk of stroke and benefit individuals with cognitive impairments.

By the end of the study, researchers did MRI scans on the brain once again to find that those with blood flow impairments at the start of the research showed improvements by more than 8 percent. Blood flow to the brain helped individuals improve their times on memory tests. In fact, the average score dropped by more than 50 seconds by the end of the study.

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Don’t be Tempted with Heart-shaped Treats that Ruin Your Breath

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

1372875_16082968Ever wonder why winter holidays are famous for their delicious treats? We sure did! From Christmas to Valentine’s Day, seasonal aisles are packed to the brim with tasty chocolates, candies and cookies. Not only are some of these goodies terrible for your waistline, but they can quickly ruin the romantic mood by causing bad breath and other oral health issues. Gooey and sugary candies can wreak havoc on your mouth, but luckily there are several healthier alternatives to satiate your sweet tooth this time of the year. Here are a few to avoid: 

Chocolate-covered peeps
Formally an Easter-themed treat, peeps are taking over Valentines with a bit of food coloring and a change of heart – you won’t find these candies shaped like bunnies this season. Although fairly low in calories, these candies will stay in your mouth long after you’ve devoured them. Gooey candies, like peeps, can easily get stuck in your teeth and in the crevices of your mouth. Since they are made of almost primarily sugar, it will attract bacteria to stick around in your mouth. This can cause bad breath in a jiffy, possibly prompting your Valentine’s date to scurry out the door.

Reese’s heart
Ooey, gooey centers are by far the worst candies for you, but sticky peanut butter filling is equally as harmful. The highly-processed filling contains oils and preservatives, which are fairly dangerous to your overall health, but Reese’s in general are also bad for your teeth. Just like the peeps, these candies get stuck in your teeth and in the crevices of your mouth quickly.

Turtles
Simply biting into the caramel goodness of a turtle just causes the “yum” reflex to kick in, but these treats are among the worst for your teeth. Caramel is even sticker than peanut butter, so it can stick around for quite some time. Luckily, the little bit of crunch in these candies can scrape away some of the caramel, but these are still on the “bad” list. If you must indulge, make sure to drink some water afterward and limit yourself to one treat.

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