Health Benefits of Wine, Tea and Chocolate

January 20, 2009

All those who consume wine, tea and chocolate in moderate amounts, and on a regular basis, significantly improve their health, in particular brain power and memory, and lower predominance of poor cognitive performance, according to a recent research.

Team of experts from Oxford University's Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, in collaboration with their colleagues from the Universities of Oslo and Bergen in Norway, conducted the study on more than 2000 senior participants between the ages of 70 and 74. The study subjects were asked to answer questions regarding their habitual beverage and food intake. Mental ability of the participants was tested as well. The experts studied the relation between a cognitive performance and the consumption of three common foodstuffs containing flavonoids (chocolate, wine and tea). Beverages and fruits such as red wine, cocoa, tea, and coffee are the major dietary sources of polyphenols, micronutrients which are found in plant-derived foods. The largest subclass of dietary polyphenols is flavonoids, and, as it has been known from other previous studies those who intake a lot of of flavonoids have a lower incidence of dementia. A lot of research has been going on to understand the role of micro-nutrients in age-related cognitive problems.

Research showed that chocolate, wine and tea boosted the brainpower of elderly: those who took all the three foodstuffs in modest amounts daily, performed much better when carrying out numbers of brain tests than those who did not. Chocolate fans had "significantly" better results in the tests than non-eaters, while tea drinkers had better scores in 6 of the tests. Wine was revealed to have the best effect in boosting the memory, and showed improved performances after a tipple, chocolate took position number 2, followed by tea. Though the latest study supports the theory, scientists say that more research is required to prove that flavonoids, and no other aspect of the foods, made the difference.

However, Oxford University Professor of Pharmacology David Smith warned that positive affects can wear off eventually if people intake more than half a glass of wine, five cups of tea or 4 squares of chocolate per day. He said: "What we have shown is that foods rich in flavonoids can improve the function of the brain. Depending on how much they had consumed they got better results, although it did plateau with four squares of dark chocolate a day - about 10g. The plateau was about half a glass a day for wine and with tea it went up to about four or five cups. The exciting thing was that people who consumed all three did even better and had least likelihood of being cognitively impaired." The researchers also warned people not to start drinking in the hope of improving their health. While alcohol consumption in moderate dosage improves cognitive function, the overindulgence is harmful and could be a cause of dementia and other health-related disorders and concerns.

Wine benefits for human health are well known and have been researched and proved in many other studies, but not everybody knows that, actually chocolate, more specifically cacao, is one of the world's healthiest foods. The main characteristic that determines its health value is an antioxidant content. Antioxidants are food chemicals that remove "free radicals" from our bodies. They can be found in many foods, such as fruits and vegetables, cacao and some berries. Free radicals are linked to everything starting our age, diseases of the hearts, Alzheimer's, and cancer. It is considered that cacao has twice the antioxidant level of that of red wine and three times that of green tea. In addition, cacao is the best source of magnesium and contains few other minerals. Studies show that cacao can lower blood pressure. The negative side of this product is that it is very high in calories, it might contain 12 to 50% of fat, depending on how it has been processed. It means while consuming too much of chocolates there is a high risk to gain major weight. So, enjoy your chocolate, but do it in moderation in order to maintain healthy forms.

Tea is a beverage that also offers lots of types of health benefits. Due to its antioxidant properties it helps to prevent cancer, reduce hypertension and boost the immune system. While green tea has been considered as the healthiest tea for the past several years, many experts say that any type of tea can provide benefits for health. The types of tea, whether white, green, black, or oolong, differ only in the way they are processed or grown. All tea comes from the same plant: Camellia sinensis. The exposure of tea leaves to oxygen (e.g. fermentation), is what determines its color and classification. Green tea is made from tea leaves that are not fermented. Black tea is made from leaves that have been fully fermented for a certain amount of time until they turn a dark color. Oolong tea falls somewhere in between with a semi-oxidation process that produces a reddish color and a flowery taste. White tea is a relatively new addition in North America. It is made from young tea leaves on tea bushes where the buds have still to be open. The tea gets its name from the color of a white downy fuzz which covers the unopened buds.

So are you an occasional drinker of wine and tea? If, yes, then with these good news you have now one more reason to enjoy drinking every day your favorite beverages. Do you love eating chocolates? If yes, then you can continue eating your favorite sweets in moderate amounts and feel happy.

Tags: Health

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