strokes

  1. Latest chocolate study isn't so sweet

    You'd have to be nuttier than an Almond Joy to believe chocolate bars can make you healthy -- either that, or an investor in candy companies.

    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?

    Too good to be true? Sorry, chocoholics -- but of course it is.

    The "new" study isn't really a new study at all. It's just a loose hodgepodge of data from seven older studies -- observational studies (not clinical trials) from Japan, Iceland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, and North America.

    Notice something here? Japan, Iceland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany are among the healthiest nations on the planet -- so chocolate eaters there are of course going to be healthier overall, skewing the numbers right off the bat.

    At least three of the studies involved patients on meds along with their candy, and none of the studies distinguished types of chocolate consumed. So sugar-packed chocolate milk, for example, carried the same weight scientifically as a much-better-for-you fine dark chocolate.

    In other words, any conclusions from the analysis in the British Medical Journal are purely coincidental.

    This is exactly the kind of study I warned you about over the summer when I wrote about the health benefits real, raw cocoa -- one of nature's true superfoods.

    Real cocoa can help protect your heart and arteries, boost your immune system, and even fight cancer. But no matter what the new study says, you won't get any of that from a candy bar.

    The only healthy way to get your chocolate fix is to go straight to the source: raw fermented cocoa beans or powder. If you can't eat the beans straight -- and not too many people can -- blend the powder until it's fine enough to dissolve in your coffee.

    For more on real, raw chocolate, read this.

  2. Killer breath

    Why bad breath is bad for your heart

    A dirty mouth is a deadly one. And I'm not talking about killer breath -- I'm talking about killer heart attacks.

    I've told you for years that oral health affects heart health. Now, one scientist has figured out the "why" behind this cause-and-effect relationship.

    It turns out that the same nasty bacteria that can cause tooth decay and gum disease can get into your bloodstream and cause blood clots that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

    The culprit is the common Streptococcus bacteria -- the same family responsible for everything from strep throat to the flesh-eating disease -- and the researchers say bleeding gums are like an open door for them.

    Think an antibiotic might help? Think again -- because the study presented at the Society for General Microbiology's autumn conference also found that the bacteria actually use those clots as a shield, making them immune to meds.

    So naturally, the researchers say they want to use their study as an excuse to develop new meds.

    C'mon already -- enough's enough!

    Why mess around with drugs when clean teeth and gums will do the trick every time? They can't get in if you don't let them -- and that's entirely up to you.

    Just remember to take care of your teeth the right way: Without that toxic waste known as fluoride.

    And unless you like spitting money into the sink with each cleaning, you don't need toothpaste -- or, for that matter, a toothbrush. Just mix some 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with baking soda to form a paste, and gently work it into your teeth and gums with your fingertips.

    Rinse with the peroxide (just don't swallow). Don't forget to floss, and make regular use of a water irrigator like the Waterpik.

    Of course, the best dental habits in the world won't save your teeth -- or your life -- if your diet is filled with sugary junk food.

  3. Pregnant women in stroke risk

    More women are suffering from more pregnancy complications than ever before -- and a new study finds that the number of strokes among pregnant women has doubled in a little more than a decade.

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