Scientists have long known and espoused the health benefits of both dark chocolate and olive oil, so it stands to reason that combining the two will be just as good for the body, if not more. And indeed, new research shows that dark chocolate enriched with extra virgin olive oil is associated with an improved cardiovascular risk profile.
Carried out by researchers from the University of Pisa and published by the European Heart Journal, the study compared the effects of dark chocolate supplemented with Italian Panaia red apple against dark chocolate enriched with EVOO on atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) progression in healthy volunteers with cardiovascular risk factors. It included a sample of 26 volunteers (14 men, 12 women) with at least three cardiovascular risk factors (smoking, dyslipidaemia, hypertension, or family history of cardiovascular disease).
Volunteers were given a 40-gram sample of dark chocolate daily during the 28-day trial. For 14 consecutive days, the chocolate was enriched with 10 percent EVOO; for the other 14 days, it contained 2.5 percent Panaia red apple.
The researchers then assessed the progression of atherosclerosis by monitoring metabolic changes (levels of carnitine and hippurate), lipid profile, blood pressure, and levels of circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), which are critical for vascular repair and maintenance of endothelial function.
At the end of the trial, the researchers concluded that the chocolate enriched with olive oil was associated with significantly increased EPC levels and high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol) and decreased blood pressure in volunteers. There was also reduced signs of atherosclerosis progression.
The apple-enriched chocolate in comparison merely led to an insignificant decrease in triglyceride levels and no critical health changes.
Speaking to attendees during a presentation at the ESC Congress in Barcelona, Dr. Rossella Di Stefano, a cardiologist at the University of Pisa and lead author of the study, said:
“We found that small daily portions of dark chocolate with added natural polyphenols from extra virgin olive oil was associated with an improved cardiovascular risk profile. Our study suggests that extra virgin olive oil might be a good food additive to help preserve our ‘repairing cells’, the EPC.”
Olive oil chocolate first came into the spotlight in 2000 when French chocolatier L’Espérantine de Marseille’s olive oil chocolate won the coveted Cordon Bleu award at the INTERSUC conference in Paris. A number of chocolate manufacturers have since followed suit with their own olive oil chocolate.
Have you had the opportunity to try Olive oil dark chocolate. Do you have any recommendations? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Do Vitamins Have Calories? Will They Make You Fat?
Calories aside, a healthy serving of vitamins is essential for your health, so don’t skimp.
Taking vitamins supplements, as opposed to preferably getting them from wholesome foods, can help round out your diet and ensure that your daily requirements are met. As for the question of whether vitamins have calories, it’s just one of several important variables you must consider.
Purpose Of Vitamins
No, vitamins do not contain calories, nor do they provide your body with energy. This means you don’t have to worry about gaining weight, getting fat or even disrupting your intermittent fasting from taking too much of them.
After vitamins from supplements or food are absorbed, your body uses them for various health-enhancing processes , such as:
- Absorbing and metabolizing other nutrients.
- Energy production for your daily activities.
- Promoting normal cell function
- Encouraging normal growth and development
- Keeping you immune system in tip-top condition to prevent disease
It goes without saying that vitamins add to your overall well-being. Vitamin D, for instance, helps your body absorb calcium and promote bone growth, and too little of it results in soft bones in children (rickets) and fragile, misshapen bones in adults (osteomalacia).
Vitamin D deficiency is a global epidemic that has also been linked to breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, depression, weight gain, and other maladies. In fact, studies have shown that people with higher levels of vitamin D have a lower risk of disease.
Melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure, so if you are dark-skinned and live in a country without a lot of sunlight, especially during the winter months, or a home-body who doesn’t go out a lot, there is good chance you might be vitamin D deficient. It’s time you probably considered taking vitamin D supplements on a regular basis.
Types Of Vitamins
Life would be so much simpler if we had a single vitamin that served all of our bodily needs and can be taken whenever and wherever, but that’s not the world we live in, at least not yet. In other words, when it comes to getting the right vitamins and in the right quantities, eating a balanced diet with a variety of foods is paramount to good health.
As noted by Carol Byrd-Bredbenner in her book “Perspectives in Nutrition,” Vitamins come in two types — water-soluble and fat-soluble — which partly explains why our bodies don’t always absorb the majority of vitamin supplements we consume.
Fat-soluble vitamins are those that are transported by fats and include vitamins A, D, E and K. To get the most out of fat-soluble vitamins, it’s best to take them with meals containing some fat.
Water-soluble vitamins are those that dissolve in water and are readily absorbed into tissues for immediate use. They include the B vitamins and vitamin C.
I like to take all my vitamins during my meals, which usually include a healthy serving of avocados, eggs and sometimes fish and/or meat.
Myths About Vitamins
There is persisting misconception that if taking a little of a certain vitamin helps to improve symptoms of a condition, then taking more will result in greater improvement. Unfortunately, that’s not the case when it comes to taking vitamins.
According to “Krause’s Food and Nutrition Therapy,” the most respected nutrition text for over 50 years, the body can only absorb and use a certain amount of the vitamins we consume. Moreover, it cannot absorb man-made vitamin supplements as easily as vitamins in foods. These are other key reasons why you should not use vitamin supplements as a replacement for food.
Vitamin C is often touted as a natural cold remedy, with Nobel laureate Dr. Linus Pauling famously claiming that taking large doses of vitamin C helps thwart a cold. However, research has shown that vitamin C is only marginally beneficial when it comes to the common cold.
A 2017 study pooling the results of 29 different studies that looked at the effect of vitamin C on colds found that taking 200 milligrams of vitamin C every single day rather than just on days when you’re sick could make cold symptoms go away about one day sooner. But that’s where the benefits end.
Benefits Of Vitamins Supplements
Vitamins are a must for a properly-functioning body, but some people have more need for certain vitamins than other. Because vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, vegans, for example, are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency and, therefore, can benefit from B-12 supplements.
On the same hand, parents concerned about the picky eaters in the family can give their children vitamin supplements to round out their diet.
Ideally, you should be getting all your vitamins from food because that’s what our bodies are accustomed to working with. It can’t be stressed enough that you should not use vitamin supplements as a replacement for food.
Be Careful With Vitamins
Gorging on vitamin supplements won’t make you fat or even gain weight, but that doesn’t mean you should. Taking excessively large doses of vitamins can result in adverse health effects.
Fat soluble vitamins, in particular, are stored in the body’s tissues and tend to remain there. They can build up in your system overtime if you consume too much, resulting in a potentially dangerous condition called hypervitaminosis.
Moreover, some water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C, can cause diarrhea if taken in excess.
You should, however, report any vitamins you are taking to your doctor if you are on medication. Vitamins can interact and interfere with medicine, which can cause the prescription to be ineffective or cause other adverse effects.
Here’s What The Future Of Food Could Look Like
Devices like tooth sensors that measure sugar and alcohol intake, as well as monitor other health qualities, could revolutionize the food industry as we know it.
From new technologies detecting specific ingredients and allergens in food to the expansion of cell-cultured meat, the list of emerging technologies that help consumers understand what they are eating grows by the day.
According Max Elder, a researcher at the Institute for the Future’s Food Futures Lab, “the future is already here, and it’s about time the food industry faced it head first.
Elder believes that for Consumer packaged goods companies to prepare for new challenges, they will need to “work backwards” to come up with strategies for creating the industry they want.
The Future Of Food Technology
Too many of today’s packaged foods are filled with empty calories, and people are no longer able to rely on their five senses to get accurate information about what they’re eating. Products labels have traditionally been relied upon to provide said information, but they could be misleading and are often difficult to understand.
In fact, a 2018 study by the Center for Food Integrity also found that only 33% of survey respondents “strongly agree” that they are confident in the safety of the food they consume. Such a high level of distrust has prompted the development of a new suite of technologies that help consumers make better-informed decisions about their food, “radical” technologies that Elder says will likely be widespread over the next decade.
Examples of such devices include an ingestible sensor being by Carnegie Mellon University that monitors gastrointestinal health and a tiny tooth sensor from Tufts University that can measure glucose, sugar and alcohol intake.
But before sensors in guts or on teeth become ubiquitous, Elder said they will likely be situated outside the body. Chinese search engine company Baidu, for instance, has developed smart chopsticks that can detect the freshness of cooking oil.
Those suffering from celiac disease will find Nima especially useful. Nima is a small portable machine that uses a sensor to test for trace amounts of gluten when crumbs are placed into it, and the namesake company behind its creation is developing variants of the technology for other allergens, including peanuts and shellfish.
While the food knowledge consumer can gain from such new technology could pose a challenge to food companies, but it is also an opportunity for brands to get more information on what eaters want and tailor their products, services and communication accordingly.
More Sustainable, Humane Meat
We can’t talk about the future of food without mention of the lab-grown meat industry, which has the potential to expand despite regulatory setbacks.
There has been a rapidly growing movement towards and major investment in exploring more cellular food systems, and while it’s too early to know if cultured meat is as healthy or nutritious as conventionally-produced meat, the segment could potentially be a major part of the food of the future.
According to Paul Shapiro Author of Clean Meat and former vice president for The Humane Society of the United States, clean meat is better for the environment than raising and slaughtering animals, whether conventional, grass-fed or free-range. Instead pouring tons of resources into raising an entire animal that won’t be eaten in its entirety — horns, eyeballs, hooves, brains, etc. all go to waste — growing meat in a lab only results in the parts and calories consumers need.
The lab-grown meat industry is still in its infancy and the market is small, meaning cell-cultured meat commands a price premium over conventional meat. However, if the industry can eventually achieve price parity, the only issue it will have to contend with is how comfortable consumers are with eating meat produced in a lab.
Meeting Environmental Values
There has been a growing demand for transparency in the food industry, and many consumers desire to know what is in their food and actively look for ecolabels that align to their values (Fair Trade, Non-GMO, etc.). An increasing number of individuals are also reading the label to look for names they recognize and trust before they make a purchase.
That’s to say companies will have to cater to consumer’s environmental values more so than ever but must do so with caution. Not fully understanding the environmental impact of new types of food production could lead to some companies making claims they may not be able to hold up.
Like everything in life, the food industry is undergoing a transformation, and most certainly for the better. The future looks promising for the health- and environmentally-conscious consumer.
Science Has Found The Best Way To Wash Pesticides Off Apples
Polishing an apple with your shirt might get rid of some dust and dirt, but removing the pesticides will require a little more work.
New research has found that washing apples with baking soda, the common yet miraculous household product, could be all you need to eliminate most of the residues on the surface of apples and other fruits.
Pesticides have long been used to increase crop yield, but rising concerns over their adverse effect on human health has many people talking. While the exact effects depend on the type of pesticides and the amount eaten, the World Health Organization says that certain pesticides could harm the developing nervous systems of fetuses and children.
A growing number of people have opted for organic food as way of avoiding the chemicals, but organic food usually command a price premium and there is no guarantee that pesticides were used. In fact, the organic, naturally-occurring pesticides that some organic farms use aren’t necessarily safer.
Washing has been and remains the standard practice used by both consumers and the food industry to remove pesticides, but some of the plant-protecting compounds that get absorbed by the skin of fruits and vegetables might be more resilient to current cleaning methods. To find the best method, Lili He, Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and colleagues conducted a study in which they applied two common pesticides — the fungicide thiabendazole, which past research has shown can penetrate apple peels, and the insecticide phosmet — to organic Gala apples and then washed apples with three different liquids: tap water, a 1 percent baking soda/water solution, and a U.S.-EPA-approved commercial bleach solution often used on produce.
The baking soda solution proved the most effective at removing pesticides, eliminating 80 percent of the thiabendazole and 96 percent of the phosmet, respectively, after 12 and 15 minutes of the fruits being soaked. Plain tap water and the bleach solution were far less effective.
The different percentages are likely due to thiabendezole’s greater absorption into the apple. Mapping images showed that thiabendazole had penetrated up to 80 micrometers deep into the apples, while phosmet was detected at a depth of only 20 micrometers.
So, there you have it, if washing is your preferred method of removing pesticides off your fruits and vegetables, using a baking soda solution is the way to go. If all other options are to be considered, then peeling your produce is probably your best bet.