Gluten Free Foods
According to a recent national survey from Consumer Reports, 63 percent of U.S. adults believe that a gluten-free diet will improve their health. About one-third said they buy gluten-free products or try to avoid gluten. However, a clinical trial published in August in the journal Digestion found that nearly 90 percent of those who think they’re “sensitive” to gluten actually have no problem digesting the protein.
Unless you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, eliminating gluten from your diet may have unintended consequences. Here’s why: Gluten-free foods often have more calories, fat, sodium, added sugars and cost more than their gluten-containing counterparts. Studies have found that people following a gluten-free diet are often deficient in several nutrients, including B-vitamins, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. Other research finds adherence to a gluten-free diet is associated with weight gain.
You’ve probably heard that dark chocolate is good for your heart – and that it may even help you maintain memory as you age. In fact, a study last year in Nature Neuroscience found that after eight weeks, older adults who consumed high amounts of cocoa flavanols daily made significant improvements on tests that measured attention and memory. And, a study in the British Journal of Nutrition, first published online in September, reported a predicted reduction of 10-year risk for developing cardiovascular disease of 22 percent among subjects who had a flavanol-containing beverage twice daily, compared to those who drank a placebo beverage.
Problem is, the flavanols naturally present in the cacao plant are responsible for the health benefits, and not all dark chocolate contains appreciable amounts of these beneficial compounds, which are often destroyed in the manufacturing process.
To reap the heart- and brain-boosting benefits of cocoa flavanols, look for sources that guarantee the amount of cocoa flavanols, such as stick packs or capsule supplements, and that can deliver a healthy boost without loading up on calories and fat.