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Phuket Health: Doctor’s orders – Eat more chocolate!

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PHUKET: Who doesn’t like dark chocolate? While the bitter taste of an 80 per cent variety might not be to everyone’s taste, recent studies from Harvard Medical School, Boston University School of Medicine, and the German Heart Journal, have shown that dark chocolate intake is associated with a 39 per cent lower risk of heart problems and stroke – that’s enough to make anyone fancy a bite.

The reason for this is that cocoa beans are rich in plant nutrients called flavonoids. Flavonoids help protect plants from environmental toxins, parasites, fungi and UV light, and when we eat foods rich in flavonoids, we also benefit from this antioxidant power.

The main type of flavonoids found in cocoa and chocolate are flavonoids which have been shown to have potential influences on vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and reducing the possibility of clots.

Flavanols also have antioxidant qualities that boost our bodies’ natural ability to destroy harmful free radicals, which is important when considering that results of genetic tests from Thanyapura Integrative Health Center (TIHC) have shown that many people do not have enough antioxidative capacity to combat the immense production of free radicals caused by modern lifestyles.

“What kind of chocolate is better and can you recommend a special brand?” is a question that I have frequently been asked. Essentially, the more the chocolate has been processed (through things like fermentation, alkalizing, roasting) the more flavanols it will lose. The best choice is, therefore, likely to be dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate, and you should always try to choose dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 65 per cent or higher.

While the health benefits of chocolate can be immense, it is important to consider the fat content, and as with most foods, exercise moderation. It is advisable to limit yourself to around 85 grams a day, but since this amount may provide up to 450 calories you may want to cut calories in other areas or step up the exercise to compensate.

Combining chocolate and exercise has been shown to add even greater health advantages including preventing obesity and type-two diabetes. The focus of TIHC is to implement individualized tests in partnership with some of the world’s leading geneticists based in Europe to develop a personalized lifestyle guideline which combines diet with an exercise program.

The test involves nothing more than a non-invasive swab of the inner cheek, from this, TIHC’s expert doctors, sports scientists and dieticians are able to identify which areas of health you are most likely to experience difficulties with, and from these results, produce and guide you through a series of beneficial lifestyle changes to help you feel fitter, healthier and enjoy guilt-free chocolate indulgences.

Prof. Dr. Michael Klentze is Chief Scientific and Medical Officer of Thanyapura Integrative Health Clinic and Founder and Chairman of the Klentze Medical Faculty.

— Dr Michael Klentze

 

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