Antioxidants: Red Wine and Chocolate

Recently I have been madly working on an herbal book that I have had in mind for years.  The best part of being an herbalist for me was when I discovered the simplest ways to stay healthy.  There are so many advertisements for supplements and wonder cures it’s hard to tell where to start.

The best place to start investing in your own health is at the beginning.  All people need to eat (no offence to the Breathians here).  Natural foods are healthy and processed foods are not.  Yes, we’ve heard it all before and it is depressing.  In order to be healthy we have to eat boring food.  Totally untrue!

What if you could indulge in a passion for chocolate and continue to consume red wine and actually add to your healthy life style?  Let’s face it folks with so many things we have to do, it is always wonderful to find out fun ways to do them.

We have all heard the term but what does it mean to our health?  Oxidative damage is caused to our cells by free radicals.  Free radicals are the by product of normal internal body functions.  They bond to other molecules and create cell damage .  Antioxidants remove the free radicals and prevent and repair the damage done by them.

Antioxidants protect against
  • Cancer
  • Aging
  • Heart Disease

Since these are three major issues in modern life it would be great to protect yourself and still be able to indulge in the things you love.  The good news is you can!

Yumm!  Just the word conjures up indulgence.  Montezuma the old womanizer, used to drink 50, count em, 50 cups a day!  He drank even more just before amorous encounters.  Casanova and the Marquis de Sade were also big chocolate fans.

In modern times, chocolate has been touted as good for you but still fattening.  Basically this is true but there are ways around it.

Chocolate has been found to be higher in antioxidants than berries, red wine and green tea.  It is an antioxidant rich food.  However the push has been for Dark Chocolate, why?  Take a look at my article Antioxidants and Cacao

The more dairy you add to cacao the more you remove any healthy effects.  Therefore, the darker the chocolate the better it is for you.  Unfortunately dark chocolate is still calorie rich.

The very best way to feed your chocolate craving and still retain all the health benefits of the chocolate is to develop a taste for raw cacao.  Cacao beans are available at most health food stores.  The peeled beans known as cacao nibs are also readily available.  They are awesome in a smoothie and even as a salad topper.  The rich chocolate taste is unadulterated by dairy or sugar.

While it may take some time to get used to chocolate without the dairy and sugar you will find that a little of the raw cacao goes a long way.  A tablespoon of the nibs will quell most chocolate cravings.  The upside is that cacao is one of the best ways to get an energy boost.  Forget store bought energy drinks, eating 4 or 5 cacao beans is a great way to get sustained energy.  They are also an appetite suppressant so no need to worry about calories.  Sunfoods sells a product called Fruity Cacao.  There is just enough sweetness here to take the edge off the bitter chocolate.

If you want a delicious energy drink either mix ground cacao nibs or cocoa powder with almond milk and a frozen banana.  For fans if you add almond butter to this it is like having a chocolate almond butter milkshake.  Delicious and healthy too!

Red Wine

According to research on the University of Rochester Medical Center website the antioxidant resveratrol is making a name for itself by destroying pancreatic cancer cells.  They even state that if you are used to drinking 1 to 2 glasses of red wine then doing so while undergoing chemotherapy may be beneficial.

The caution here folks is 1 or 2 glasses of red wine is beneficial, more actually causes damage.

The antioxidants in red wine are also said to be beneficial for your heart.  According to WebMD two studies came up with interesting results.  The first hypothesis is that resveratrol inhibits immature fat cells from maturing.  It basically prevents fat from forming.  The second study was on the benefits of red wine to the blood vessels.

I am not meaning to encourage non-drinkers to start drinking here.  I am simply saying that if you like a glass of red wine now and again you may just be doing yourself a favor.  For non-drinkers consumption of red grape juice will also have beneficial effects since the antioxidants are actually found in the skin of the grapes.

Ultimately it is up to the individual to look after their own health.  If however, they would like to indulge in their chocolate habit or have a drink of red wine, there is plenty of evidence out there that says this can only be beneficial.