Dr. David Kaminskas
The Catholic Doctor Is In
August 30, 2018 // Perspective

Random thoughts and caveats

Dr. David Kaminskas
The Catholic Doctor Is In

Keeping up on what is new in health and medicine can be a challenge. I have recently read some interesting articles involving food and beverages that I thought I would share.

Other than water, coffee is the most consumed beverage in the world. Coffee consumption has been shown to reduce the incidence of diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, parkinsonism and even several types of cancer. It looks like two to three cups of coffee daily is the sweet spot. It is believed the magic of coffee is because of its rich phytochemistry that includes caffeine and polyphenols. The latter are a rich source of antioxidants that are also found in fruits, vegetables, tea and red wine. Studies have shown that light-to-moderate coffee consumption reduces all-cause mortality by 14 percent. In an ongoing prospective cohort study out of France, it was found that people who are infected with both hepatitis C virus and human immunodeficiency virus did better if they drank coffee. In fact, the researchers were surprised to see that 3 cups of coffee daily reduced the all-cause mortality by 50 percent in these coinfected patients.

For all you insomniacs out there, here is an interesting caveat: If you eat oily fish, you will sleep better. Here’s the deal. Fish that have at least 5 percent fat are considered oily fish. This type of fish has high levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin D. Both have been found to be favorable in controlling the sleep/wake regulation cycle. Several well-controlled studies indeed show that you improve your sleep time and quality with consumption of oily fish. Fish that are in this category include salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies. So, if you are looking for a good night’s sleep, next time you order a pizza as a late-night snack, maybe you shouldn’t hold the anchovies!

Realizing that this topic has been talked about a lot, let’s move on to the health advantages of dark chocolate. I think I can add to your knowledge base on this subject. Sorry to all you connoisseurs of milk chocolate and white chocolate out there, but you’re not deriving much benefit. The higher the level of pure cocoa, the more health benefits. You want to have at least 70 percent cocoa in your dark chocolate. During my research of this subject, I learned that many of the most popular dark chocolate brands put their dark chocolate through an alkalization process that removes the natural bitter taste and gives it a smoother, mellow taste. This alkalization process is also referred to as Dutch cocoa or Dutch chocolate. This actually removes the good, healthy stuff in dark chocolate. If you do not detect some bitterness in your dark chocolate, it probably has been alkalized and the health benefits removed. It is the antioxidants, specifically flavonoids and polyphenols in the cocoa that make it so good for you. Scientific studies have shown that consuming 70-99 percent cocoa will relax your blood vessels and improve blood flow to your vital organs — like the brain and heart. It will also reduce platelet reactivity. This means your platelets become more slippery, reducing the risk of clotting that can lead to stroke or heart attack. Dark chocolate also is favorable to your lipid profile. It raises the HDL (good cholesterol) and lowers the LDL (bad cholesterol).

Now for the bad news. As you would expect, cocoa is high in calories. One square of a dark chocolate bar is usually about one ounce, which depending on the blend of cocoa and other ingredients can have about 80-160 calories. Therefore, health experts recommend you limit yourself to 7 ounces a week. That still means you can enjoy little bit of bliss on a daily basis.

Our Creator has blessed us with many natural foods on this earth that can not only bring joy but even health benefits. Keep that in mind as you say your daily prayers of gratitude. And remember what it says in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”

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