1. For a happy brain and a healthy body, get 70% of THIS

    Whether you're a mom, a grandmom, or just celebrating the women who brought you into this world… I hope that you have a very happy Mother's Day this coming weekend.

    No matter what you call her -- “Mom,” “Mother,” “Ma,” or “Mama” -- she wants the best for you, no doubt about that. So, when it comes to a gift for that special mom in your life, only the best will do.

    If she’s anything like my wife (or my daughter, who’s also a mother herself), some chocolate can go a long way toward showing gratitude – and it turns out that the BEST chocolate out there is the DARK stuff.

    Because according to a pair of new studies, not only does dark chocolate taste good… but it can also give your brain and your immune system a powerful boost!

    Researchers from Loma Linda University observed the brain activity of volunteers who’d each eaten a normal-sized dark chocolate bar containing 70 percent cacao.

    In the first study, researchers detected a boost in gamma activity a half hour after the dark chocolate had been consumed. That's a sign that the subjects’ gray matter had more power to form connections and make repairs (a.k.a. "neuroplasticity") – and that’s a sign of a healthy, young brain.

    Gamma waves are also associated with stress reduction, and what better gift could there be for your dear mom than that?!

    Even better, that increased activity was still going strong after two hours had passed.

    In the second study, researchers found that consuming dark chocolate with high cacao content turned on switches that activate the immune system’s T cells, which fight infection and reduce inflammation.

    Of course, it’s not the sugar or the fat in those chocolate bars that carry all of those health benefits – it’s the cacao. Specifically, it’s the cacao’s antioxidant compounds, called flavonoids, that are probably what stimulate your gray matter and your immune cells.

    Of course, the higher the percentage of cacao in your chocolate, the GREATER the benefits. So, whether it's Mother's Day or any other day you want to do something special for the mom in your life – or even yourself! -- look for chocolate that's 70 percent cacao or higher at your local health food store or in the gourmet chocolate aisle. (That “Special Dark” you can pick up at the checkout aisle only has about 45 percent cacao, which just won’t cut it.)

    As I said, the higher the cacao content, the greater the benefits… up to a point, anyway. The taste is more bitter than what you may be used to, so you’d probably only use a 100 percent cacao bar for baking.

  2. Candy companies smell sweet cash in cocoa craze

    Sugar slingers getting sweet on natural cocoa

    Any time I hear a gal claiming that chocolate is a substitute for sex, I have to hit her with some bad news.

    She's not doing it right.

    No, chocolate can't do EVERYTHING, friend, but it can do plenty. Specifically, raw, real cocoa controls inflammation and can tackle everything from brain-robbing dementia to heart disease.

    Well, leave it to the corporate fat cats to try to make a buck off something Mother Nature has already perfected. And you won't BELIEVE who is trying to cash in on the cocoa health craze.

    The Mars candy company has patented a way to extract cocoa and stuff it into tiny capsules, and these modern-day Willy Wonkas are even working with scientists on a study to up the dose.

    Hey, if you want to trust your health to the company that brought us the Snickers bar, knock yourself out. There are plenty of funeral homes that will be happy to take ten grand from your grieving widow.

    You have to hand it to them, though. Before long, Mars will have one division that could give you heart disease with their sugar-loaded garbage (which is NOT the same thing as natural cocoa), and another that could cure it. Talk about a brilliant business plan!

    When it comes to cocoa, I'm not just the latest doc jumping on the bandwagon. I'm the guy who backed the bandwagon out of the garage. For decades I've been recommending cocoa to my patients, and watched as it helped quite a few of them roll back the odometers on their health.

    It can do the same for you, and you don't even need to wait for those sugar-slingers at Mars to perfect their little cocoa capsule. You can grab real cocoa today at any health food store near you.


  3. Latest chocolate study isn't so sweet

    Not sure which category the researchers behind the latest study fall into, but it would have to be one or the other. How else would you explain their claim that chocolate in any form -- including white chocolate, which technically isn't even chocolate -- can slash your risk of heart disease, strokes, and diabetes?
  4. The right way to get your chocolate fix

    I always cringe when I read a news report on the health benefits of cocoa -- the takeaway is almost always "eat more chocolate."

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