We’ve all heard that antioxidants provide numerous health benefits and in this article, I want to focus on one of them: chocolate. I have to single out chocolate because we hear so much about it in the news and because it is a pleasure-providing food: most everyone would rather indulge in a little chocolate than eat more broccoli if given the choice!

There is a lot of research out there about the benefits of chocolate and recently a large meta-analysis concluded that chocolate can reduce the risk of developing cardiometabolic disorders which can lead to coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Cardiometabolic disorders refers to a set of risk factors that include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated fasting glucose, elevated triglycerides, and abdominal obesity.

The researchers pooled the results of 7 studies which included more than 114,000 participants and found that in 5 of the 7 studies “levels of chocolate consumption seem to be associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of cardiometabolic disorders” including a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease, a 29% reduction in stroke and a reduction in c-reactive protein of 17%.

This isn’t the first time chocolate has hit the news. Researchers found five years ago that dark chcocolate acts like aspirin in reducing the clumping of platelets which cause blood to clot. If the clot is formed because the platelets clump and it blocks a blood vessel, it can mean a fatal heart attack.

Three years ago researchers working with diabetic patients found that upon giving them a special high-flavanol cocoa drink for a month they brought their blood vessel function from severely impaired back to normal. The improvement was comparable to what is seen upon introduction of exercise and many diabetes medications.

And recently, researchers found that a flavanoid in dark chocolate known as epicatechin can increase cellular signals that shield nerve cells from damage and can protect the brain after a stroke, Strokes are similar to heart attacks in that the blood supply is blocked, but in a stroke, that occurs in your brain instead of your heart. The problem is that when the brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients, cells begin to die within minutes.

These anti-oxidant epicatechins (also found in red wine, tea and certain fruits and vegetables) stimulate two nerve pathways known to shield nerve cells in your brain from damage. So when animals were fed epicatechins an hour and a half before a stroke, it was like their brain was on ‘stand-by’ ready to protect itself because the pathways were activated and so less brain damage occurred.

So what’s not to like! Here’s the key though: it’s all about the kind of chocolate and how much you consume. You’ve probably heard that all the benefits occur with darker chocolate and that is true. Milk chocolate not only affords no benefits, it contains milk and excess sugar which cancels out the antioxidant effect.

Stick with unsweetened baking chocolate and dark chocolate with greater than 70% cacao. Yes, it’s more bitter, but that’s why it has the benefits; it hasn’t been processed. Also read the label to avoid unnecessary fillers when possible.

The other key is that this does not give you free reign to eat chocolate all day! One study showed that the ideal amount for protection against inflammation and cardiovascular disease was just under 7 grams a day. That amounts to just less than a half a bar a week. Eating more than that cancelled out the benefits. So we’re talking a bite or two a day, not a bar or two!

But knowing that a couple bites a day of a powerful antioxidant can have such a big impact, perhaps that will inspire you to consume more of other known antioxidants as well. Either way, if you are looking for something sweet to end your day, you can’t go wrong with a piece or two of dark chocolate. Enjoy!

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at www.IngerPols.com

Photo Source: Microsoft Clip Art


This is the second of five articles highlighting the five supplements I think every adult should take. The first was a whole-food based multivitamin. The second is a form of CoQ10. Ubiquitous means to exist or to be everywhere; to be omnipresent. From the same word source comes the second supplement I think virtually everyone should be taking: ubiquinol.

Ubiquinol is the active and reduced form of CoQ10 (also known as ubiquinone). CoQ10 is found in every cell of the body and performs a critical role in cellular energy production. It also protects against free radical damage, which affects the aging process on numerous levels. While both ubiquinone and ubiquinol are necessary for sustaining life, ubiquinol is the source of the powerful antioxidant benefits that we often associate with CoQ10. More than 90% of the CoQ10 found in a healthy person’s blood is in the form of ubiquinol.

You’ve probably heard about free radicals, even if you don’t know how they affect you.  Free radicals are oxygen atoms deficient in electrons that become reactive in our bodies. They then wander “freely” through our bodies and cause damage to our tissues and DNA. Most experts agree that if we could reduce the free radical damage, we could slow down the damage that occurs in our bodies as we age. Ubiquinol can help because it limits free radical production.

CoQ10 also helps in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy base for all our cells. But your ability to produce CoQ10 and then convert it to ubiquinol, even if you eat whole unprocessed foods, diminishes as you age. If you are under 25 years old, you will do well taking CoQ10 as a supplement. But after age 25, the conversion process becomes more challenging and research shows that taking the reduced form, ubiquinol, has a greater effect on helping to produce more cellular energy. Taking ubiquinol can also help you absorb more CoQ10 from your food.

In addition to free radical protection and increased cellular energy, ubiquinol can improve heart health. (I address its role in combating the oxidation that can occur with small dense LDL in the cholesterol chapter.) Ubiquinol has also been shown to help manage high blood pressure and to benefit seriously ill patients suffering from advanced late-stage congestive heart failure.

In one study, critically ill patients with life expectancies of less than six months were given ubiquinol for three months. They experienced a 24%-50% increase in their heart’s ability to pump blood, in some cases tripling their plasma CoQ10 levels. They all demonstrated significantly improved heart function and lived past initial expectations.

Statins lower cholesterol on the same pathway that your body uses to produce CoQ10. Research shows that CoQ10 production is significantly reduced by statins so ubiquinol supplementation is a must for anyone taking those drugs.

While ubiquinol is clearly tied to good heart health, its ability to mitigate free radical damage and support base cellular energy functions is not fully understood. Ubiquinol has only been available in supplement form since 2006, but what we have learned in that limited time is impressive.

Ubiquinol is important to many key processes in the body because it supports basic cellular level functions, so the benefits are likely far beyond what can be cited through the limited research available now. Whether heart health or anti-aging is a concern, the research that does exist now is compelling enough to recommend this supplement. And I believe we’ll learn even more about how important this vitamin-like substance is to many health functions in the coming years.

Click to read the next installment of the series: 5 Supplements Every Adult Should Take

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at www.IngerPols.com

Photo Source: Microsoft Clip Art


More than just a means of warding off vampires or other evil spirits, garlic is a powerhouse nutrient with many health benefits. Though garlic has been used as a health remedy by Greek, Roman and Egyptian cultures, was mentioned in the Bible and the Talmud, and has been integral in Chinese Medicine for thousands of years, scientists have finally determined what makes garlic such a powerful antioxidant. The compound that gives garlic its aroma and flavor, known as allicin, may well be the world’s most powerful antioxidant, capable of effectively trapping free radicals even better than Vitamin E coQ10 or green tea and grapes.

But garlic lacks the flavanoids found in the latter so scientists had to try to figure out what is so unique about garlic. Researchers have concluded that the power lies in the decomposition of allicin. As allicin decomposes, it is able to react with free radicals extremely rapidly, faster than scientists had ever seen compounds react together before. As it decomposes, allicin creates sulfenic acid and literally as fast as it interacts with the free radicals, it traps and absorbs them.

While garlic is from the same family as leeks, onions, and shallots, these other plants have a slower rate of decomposition of the allicin and so result in lower levels of sulfenic acid to react with the free radicals and therefore do not have the same medicinal properties. Only garlic yields the full medical benefits including antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activities that a multitude of studies have shown, so let’s look at a few of them.

Garlic has been used to shown to reduce plaque deposits on the aortic walls, preventing atherosclerosis and has also been shown to have a positive effect on lowering high blood pressure. It can help regulate blood sugar levels as well as homocysteine levels and may reduce diabetes complications.

Garlic has been used to prevent scurvy due to its vitamin C levels, was used during World War I and II to prevent gangrene due to its antiseptic properties, and many cultures, including Traditional Chinese Medicine, have used garlic to prevent and fight colds and coughs. Garlic can also be used topically to treat fungal infections on the skin and taking garlic supplements have even been shown to reduce tick bite incidence.

All this from a delicious flavorful spice you can use to enhance many of your dishes, so try adding more garlic to your meals. One study on heart health, however, showed that crushing the garlic enhances the benefits, so while there are still benefits to garlic powders and pills, crushing fresh garlic on your food is the best way to maximize its health benefits and yummy flavor. Just make sure your partner enjoys some too!

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!



Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at www.IngerPols.com
Photo Source: Microsoft Clip Art

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