Nutrition Wednesday: Blueberries and Dark Chocolate!

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I am going to attempt to hold myself accountable to a Nutrition Wednesday series where I will be pulling information from my previous nutrition class to inform you guys about different foods and ways of eating! Some of this information was mind boggling, but please note that these posts are my opinion and interpretation of information from the class and textbook! Anyway, I thought I’d start off the first Nutrition Wednesday by talking about the benefits of blueberries and chocolate. There has been a lot of controversial claims about both of these foods, so I’m hoping to clear the air a little bit.

BLUEBERRIES:

blueberries

Before I can discuss the benefits of blueberries, you must first know what antioxidants are. Sizer & Whitney define antioxidants as compounds that protect other compounds from damaging reactions involving oxygen by themselves reacting with oxygen (anti – against, oxy – oxygen). Basically, it is a defense against damaging oxygen reactions to cells.

Research has shown mixed results for the so called benefits that everyone has associated with blueberries. Research has shown that they can help to lessen age-related mental declines and cognitive deficits in the older populations and in mentally ill people. These findings were discovered through animal experimentation (which I don’t support, but let’s not get me started on that right now…) and population studies. They attributed the benefits to the blueberries acting as antioxidants and limiting the damage oxidation has on brain cells. Unfortunately, a study done on older women in which the women’s mental decline was measured against their antioxidant diet intake showed no effect.

Thus, while the polls may be claiming that blueberries are a super food, there is no definitive research yet. It is suggested that blueberries are included in the diet to ensure that you are receiving their benefits if they eventually find that they are a super food; however, other foods contain some of the same benefits as blueberries, including most nuts, fruits, veggies, and whole grains. So the best option, as always, is to maintain a balanced diet in which you eat a variety of fruits, veggies, and whole grains to obtain the most benefits from all foods.

DARK CHOCOLATE:

dark chocolate

I’m sure as you are reading this you are already telling yourself that beneficial or not, you will eat chocolate because let’s face it, EVERYONE LOVES CHOCOLATE. Sadly, not all of the news I have to share with you is good, as I’m sure you have guessed.

First, according to research, chocolate is NOT a mood lifter. So please don’t eat chocolate to feel better! On the other hand, research has found that it can decrease cardiovascular disease risk and can act as an antioxidant to protect normal cells against oxidation. It has also been used to increase weight in individuals that are too thin. For that reason though, large quantities, and even small quantities, can pack on fat, which is a big health issue nowadays.

So, what is one to do? Chocolate has been shown to promote cardiovascular health benefits, but it also packs on the pounds and is high in sugar. Thus, it is suggested that chocolate be saved as a once a week/once a month type of food and that it be replaced in your daily diet by fruits and veggies that also have some of the same benefits and more. As always, moderation and a balanced diet are key. I guess you can’t have your cake and eat it too….

 

Have you heard anyone claim that blueberries are a “superfood?”

What is your take on dark chocolate? Love it or leave it?

 

Please note that I am *not* a nutritionist or nutrition expert, this is information based on my own knowledge and experience that I took away from the book Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies by Sizer and Whitney. Please consult a doctor before starting any nutrition routine or prescribing to any diet.

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