TAKING COCOA TO HEART
All ye chocolate lovers do lend me your eyes for what you crave for daily may be an urge straight from your heart. Pardon me if I made you scream for joy; quantity and type do matter. Dark chocolate with less processing does have more benefits than the milk variety and taking more will definitely send a message to your waistline no matter what your tongue and heart may say.
The purer the cocoa (less additives/processing) the more beneficial it is. The antioxidant in cocoa that is at the centre of its quest for being considered a super food is also found in red wine, green tea, several fruits and vegetables and so it is not surprising that it has some anti-cancer/cancer prevention properties. Red wine (or alcohol in general) has been touted for ages as beneficial to heart health yet cocoa that has twice the antioxidants that red wine contains and thrice that found in green tea gets less mileage when we talk about heart-health. Take a second look at what you drink these days.
This same antioxidant also increases the good cholesterol (HDL) in our blood and hence prevents the formation of plaques in blood vessels that may cause narrowing or blocking of these vessels supplying essential nutrients to vital organs and various parts of the body. It’s no surprise that this wonder lays claim to the following and many more;
1. Reducing blood pressure
2. Increasing blood vessel health
3. Reducing heart attack and stroke risk
4. Improving brain function – why not when it is getting good nutrients
5. Relieving stress
6. Boosting sexual desire and performance – this is a function of the brain and good blood flow.
7. Providing energy and vitality – this general improvement in health may also boost fertility.
8. Delaying physical signs of aging – great looking skin for instance from great blood circulation.
9. Relieving menstrual cramps/discomfort (its magnesium component responsible to a large extent for this)
10. Reduces risk of Type 2 Diabetes
11. Protects teeth from dental caries
Since the majority of us may die from cardiovascular disease (heart and blood vessel disease) and cocoa apparently reduces our risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, then it may be worth looking at our consumption of cocoa products once again.
I love the numerous benefits that this golden pod hoards. I will attempt to list a few uses but the list continues to grow;
1. Used in the preparation of soaps and creams that can simply take your breath away
3. Sauces for food
5. Animal food
6. Mix with food to reduce nausea in people battling with cancer for instance
7. May play a role in marketing where “cocoa fragrance” in books on sale drives traffic to those books.
9. ..and it appears cocoa may have a role in preventing malaria
It appears that parts of cocoa that were originally considered as “waste” are now pushing for primetime.
Man cannot live by food, drink and creams only, in addition we need to ensure we are getting a good dose of physical activity. In November 2018, the new physical activity guidelines served as a reminder to us all and the key points broken into simple English is just what you have known all along so let us get to it;
1. Even a little increase in physical activity is better than nothing.
2. Start slowly and increase duration and in some cases intensity.
3. Your focus on physical activity is to improve health. Weight loss or even better fat loss may be an excellent “by-product”
4. Increased physical activity may reduce our risk for about 8 cancers (initially we limited it to 2).
5. In moderate intensity physical activity, we should be able to talk while we go along and we need 150minutes to 300 minutes of this each week (75 mins to 150 mins a week of high intensity exercise in which we can hardly catch our breath is what we need). For the majority of us moderate intensity exercise is all that the good doctor prescribed.
6. It is better to exercise most days of the week rather than to pack it all in a day. Well we do not wait to eat once a week, do we?
7. You don’t need to wait for an ideal time to squeeze in 10 minutes or 30 minutes of exercise at a stretch. Every little bit counts and it adds up
a. Using the stairs instead of the elevator as often as possible
b. Parking as far away from your destination as feasible and walking part
c. Getting off a little distance from your actual stop to walk the rest
d. Pacing while on the phone (and we spend quite some time on the phone)
e. Walking to a colleagues desk to discuss an issue instead of calling on the phone
g. Washing your car
h. …and I am sure you have your own ways of increasing physical activity instead of forming an unbreakable bond with your bed, chair or sofa. Share with me via email.
AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI)
Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
(Health Essentials Ltd/St Andrews Clinic)
*Dr. Kojo Essel is a medical doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy, fitness nutrition and corrective exercise.