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Tea, chocolate and long life
 By Barry Collins        

        It is often said that chocolate is good for the soul but bad for your health. Nutritionists are the first to suggest that those with a sweet tooth should strike the dark substance from their diet, but have also had to admit grudgingly that the flavonoid content of chocolate, and tea, may also have benefits. Now, a new report from America confirms that the benefits are indeed legion.

The report finds that moderate consumption of pigments, known as flavonoids, that occur naturally in plants  and vegetables – which include tea and the constituents of chocolate -can reduce thrombosis, prevent inflammation of arteries and encourage normal heart functions by causing an antioxidant effect. That means they reduce the oxidation of certain chemicals in the blood,  a process that often proves harmful to health.

         Research has suggested that chocolate and tea can be good for the heart before, but a study published recently reviewing the evidence from 66 published studies, delivers definitive evidence.

        "No single food will confer immunity from illness, " says Dr Penny Kris-Etherton, professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University who conducted the review, "but both tea and chocolate can be components of a healthy diet if eaten in moderation. "

        Indeed the co-author of  the research, Carl Keen, is so impressed by the collective results of the studies that he is recommending  such foods be 



served on long-haul flights, so as to reduce the risks of deep-thein thrombosis.

        Kris-Etherton adds: "Tea is an ideal way to add antioxidant flavonoids to your diet. Without milk or sugar, it has the additional benefit of containing no calories. Having a chocolate cookie that also contains fruit and nuts along with the tea can make a healthy-heart snack. "

        As a guide to threshold daily doses, Kris-Etherton claims that either one cup of tea brewed for two minutes,  or 38g of chocolate  ( about three-quarters of a regular Dairy Milk bar), can be  enough to trigger an immediate beneficial effect. Three and  a half cups or 125g of chocolate (2 1/2 Dairy Milk bars) could have of an effect lasting for a month or more.

        "If you maintain constant consumption, you will experience a prolonged effect, " she says.

        The good news is tempered with caution, however, as it is difficult to make precise daily recommendations because each chocolate brand has a different flavonoid level.

        It is also accepted that other necessary ingredients of  milk chocolate, such as fat and sugar, can have a detrimental  effect on the body. There is also bad news for coffee junkies—coffee contains no flavonoids whatsoever, and offers no known benefits to health.

        The Penn State study adds to a growing pool of controversial research that claims beneficial effects for supposedly harmful foods. Last year the British academic Dr Robin Baker announced that eating fatty foods does not necessarily increase cholesterol levels -- a factor long associated with heart disease.

        Although the consumption of red meats and dairy products has risen over the past 20 years, Baker cited studies from Japan that reveal the number of deaths linked to heart conditions has fallen. Habits  once considered a sin seem to be on the path to redemption. 






























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