A Look at “Healthy Snacks”: Chocolate, Alcohol & Coffee

August 27th, 2018 - Posted to Cardiology

A Look at “Healthy Snacks”

Chocolate – From Mouth to Blood Stream

Cardiovascular diseases represent the main factor causing death or severe damage to communities in the entire world, but especially in developed countries. Therefore, when a delicious treat such as chocolate is said to help prevent or reduce such grave statistics not many people ask further questions.

One or two studies that speak about the would-be health benefits of chocolate might just be enough for a considerable part of the population to incorporate chocolate into their meals as a healthy snack. However, it is important to keep in mind that at the present time there is not one single study that could prove causality when it comes to consuming chocolate and a healthy way of living.

The theory goes that because cacao beans are rich in flavonoids, which are a type of antioxidant generated by plants, it will benefit the consumer of chocolate by:

  • lowering their blood pressure
  • improving the blood flow
  • preventing cell damage
  • preventing blood clots

Eating chocolate is also said to act as an antidepressant and boosts thinking. However, the fact is that flavonoids are not exclusively found in chocolate, but in a quite large variety of other foods and drinks such as nuts, apples, pears, blueberries, cherries, red wine or tea.

Whatever selective science and media might promote, you should not rely on chocolate consumption to take care of your cardiovascular issues. Nevertheless, a healthier kind of chocolate for a treat will have its undeniable benefits, even if their magnitude is nowhere close to protecting your heart. The best choice would be to consume quality dark chocolate since it is less processed and so it contains a higher amount of flavonoids and minerals like potassium and zinc. Approximately 200 mg of cocoa flavonoids per day would be considered a safe, moderate portion of chocolate intake, with the individual being encouraged to enrich their diet with some of the other foods containing the substance.

A healthy way of eating is more the result of an informed and balanced regimen than that of portion control.

Alcohol – Tonic or Toxin?

About two-thirds of the American adult population is recorded to admit to leisurely drinking, with beer being men’s beverage of preference while women’s choice would be wine. Even if drinking is thought to be as old as human civilizations themselves, it is vital to acknowledge that each individual has its own unique background and history, and so the general set of benefits and risks concerning alcohol varies from person to person.

Ethanol, which is the main ingredient in alcoholic drinks, affects the brain, the heart, the liver, the stomach and gallbladder, with the effect that it influences mood, concentration and agility. Red wine is singled out to be the best alcoholic drink to improve cardiovascular issues. However, this should only carry word-of-mouth significance, since there is no scientific support related to the matter.

Aside from cardiovascular disease, alcohol is also said to help the consumer in a number of other ways, such as:

  • lowering the risk of diabetes
  • lowering the risk of common cold
  • lowering the risk of gallstones
  • lowering the risk of dementia
  • boosting libido
  • prolonging life

It is young adults who should be especially careful with alcohol consumption since it is this part of the population that is shown to be more inclined to excessive drinking followed, more often than not, by grave consequences.

The conversation about safe alcohol drinking is always stirred toward the notion of moderate drinking, which refers back to each individual being built differently and having a personal tolerance, but as a general rule, one should weigh the benefits against the risks when it comes to the way they want to experience intoxicating beverages.

Coffee – Scapegoat to Saviour?

Annually, Americans drink more than 3.6 billion ounces of coffee. Throughout time, caffeine has been blamed for many of our mishaps, especially when it comes to the aspect of health. However, a less accusatory gaze has been observing caffeine recently and a quite positive outlook has been affirmed in relation to the consumption of the substance.

Coffee is thought by many to be the greatest source of antioxidants worldwide, with a large part of the population having relatively easy access to it. Some of the benefits that the drinking of coffee has been linked to are:

  • lower risk of cancers of the oral cavity and skin
  • lower risk of liver disease
  • lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • lower risk of Parkinson’s disease
  • lower risk of depression

Nevertheless, if consumed in excess, coffee will have harmful effects on your organism, such as:

  • trembling
  • rapid heartbeat
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • restlessness
  • sleeplessness

Even if coffee in itself does have some health benefits, it would be very easy to turn it into something that would be damaging to your well-being. The simplest way to do that would be by adding a few other ingredients to it, notably sugar, in regard to which most dieticians agree it is the worst additive to modern regimens.