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By Carol LeBeau
9/6/2012 1:42:14 PM

I hate beets! 

As long as I can remember, the taste, texture… the very smell wafting from the bowl of beets on the buffet at Souplantation makes me want to well – b_rf!   It’s visceral!  No matter how hard I’ve tried to buddy up with beets, a close encounter with the earthy, red vegetables never fails to trigger the gag reflex.

But just because I can’t stomach the red, root veggie doesn’t mean I should ignore them.  Heck, some of my best friends like beets.  Raw, cooked or pickled (ugh!), my husband digs beets.  I just have to hold my nose.

Fact is, this often unloved (I know I’m not alone!) veggie is packed with nutrition –including potassium, fiber and folate.  Just a half-cup of cooked beets provides 17% of the folate you need each day.  And like all vegetables, the big, bad beet has no saturated fat or cholesterol.

Researchers believe the red pigment (called betacyanin) in beets could protect against the development of cancerous cells and might play a role in reducing inflammation associated with heart disease.

Traditionally know for their dark, red hue, these root veggies also come in shades of gold and white.  Napoleon made the vegetable famous in 19th century France by capitalizing on the beets’ high sugar content and creating hundreds of refined sugar mills.

Beets can be steamed, boiled, pickled, roasted or eaten raw but because they contain more natural sugar than starch, they are particularly delicious (or so I’m told) oven-roasted…which concentrates the sugar rather than leaching it into cooking liquid.

So, if you can stomach it, don’t pass on that bowl of borscht!  Because when it comes to nutrition, there’s no beating the beet. 

And if borscht isn’t your thing, check out these three, easy recipes I ran across in Prevention Magazine – quick and fresh ideas for those of you who enjoy beets.

Please, don’t let me stop you. 

Cold Beet Soup

Blend together 4 med. diced cooked beets, 2 cups water, 2 Tbsp sour cream, 1Tbsp drained prepared horseradish and 2 tsp fresh dill.  Season to taste.  (Makes 3 ½ cups) Pour into 4 serving bowls and top each with a dollop of sour cream and a dill sprig.

Roasted Beets and Sautéed Beet Greens

Trim 1 bunch med beets with tops to 1”.  Wash and chop greens and stems.

Scrub beets and wrap tightly in heavy-duty foil.  Roast in a 400-degree oven until tender, 50 minutes. Cool, peel and cut into wedges.

Sauté greens, stems and 2 tsp minced garlic in 1 Tbsp oil in skillet over medium heat until tender, 6 minutes.  Season.

Top beets and greens with 2 Tbsp each pistachios and goat cheese.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Beet Hummus

Rinse and drain 1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas. Add to food processor with 2 med. chopped cooked beets, 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1 ½ Tbsp each tahini and extra virgin olive oil, and 1 tsp chopped garlic.  Puree until smooth.  Season to taste. (Makes 2 cups.)

Serve with sweet potato chips.

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

By Carol LeBeau
8/6/2012 1:49:36 PM


It’s late summer and that means prime time for peaches!  And this season’s crop is well…peachy keen!

I recently picked up a bagful of the summertime staple at Boney’s Bayside Market in Coronado.  After ripening a couple of days, my perfect peaches were so sweet and juicy; I had to eat one over the sink!  And it was worth every indelicate slurp!

As we head into the “dog days” of summer, peaches are a sweet way to beat the heat.  They’re 87 percent water and contain potassium, an electrolyte that helps keep you hydrated.  They’re fat-free, low in calories and loaded with anti-oxidant vitamins and minerals.

But you need to be a peach and treat these delicate summer stone fruits with care.  They bruise and spoil easily, so avoid putting them in a fruit bowl.  Instead, let peaches ripen in a paper bag on the counter until fragrant and slightly soft to the touch.

Don’t chill them before they’re ripe – this gives the fruit an unpleasant, mealy texture.  And you may want to go for white peach varieties.  They contain less acid and have a sweeter flavor than yellow peaches.

And you don’t have to eat ‘em alone. I have three perfectly peachy recipes to share with you.  I promise they’re super easy and dee-LISH!


  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 2 large peaches, peeled and chopped
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage (Napa, red, green or substitute broccoli slaw)
  • 4 large Bibb lettuce leaves
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese (I prefer feta!)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted

(I found this wonderful recipe on Web MD and it includes a number of ingredients for a homemade dressing to accompany it. But to keep things simple in the kitchen,   I use Girard’s Champagne bottled dressing – available at all major grocery stores.  You know I’m no “foodie!”)



  • Heat oven to 400 degrees F
  • Combine 4 medium peeled, pitted and sliced peaches; ¼ cup sugar and ¼ tsp. ground ginger in a medium skillet.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring gently until sugar dissolves…about 3 minutes.  Let cool slightly.
  • Place a store-bought 9-inch piecrust on baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Mound peaches in center.  Fold edges up and over filling, leaving center exposed.
  • Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp sugar and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.


These are SO refreshing!

  • Combine ¼ cup honey, 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, 12 ice cubes and 3 medium, peeled, pitted and sliced peaches in blender.  Puree until smooth.
  • Pour into 8 shot glasses and garnish each with a peach slice.

A real show stopper!!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Moldy Berries?
By Carol LeBeau
7/11/2012 2:35:57 PM


For me, summer means the beach, a best selling book and big bowls brimming with fresh, sweet and juicy berries!  

Berries are delicious…and nutritious.  But they’re also kind of delicate.  Whether you buy them at your local farmer’s market or in bulk, like me, at Costco – berries can go bad in a hurry! Raspberries, in particular, seem to grow mold before you even get them home from the market! 

Well, here’s a helpful hint that not only keeps berries fresh longer – it keeps them from getting moldy in the first place! This timely tip for berry preservation comes from my friend, Connie.  Are you ready?


Seriously, when you get your berries home, prepare a mixture of one part vinegar (white or apple cider work best) and 10 parts water. Dump the berries into the mixture and swirl it around. Drain. Rinse if you’d like (although the mixture is so diluted, you can’t taste the vinegar) and pop the little buggers in the fridge!

The vinegar kills any mold spores and other bacteria that might be on the surface of the fruit. Amazingly, raspberries last a week or more and strawberries can go nearly two weeks without getting moldy and soft.

So, don’t be afraid to take advantage of the barrage of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and more this summer.  With the help of a little vinegar, you can keep your favorite berries fresh as long as it takes you to eat them!

Thanks Connie!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

By Carol LeBeau
6/6/2012 1:45:02 PM

When it comes to eating, I’m pretty disciplined. But all bets are off when it comes to chips and guacamole! At a Mexican restaurant…forget the entrée.  Just put the bowl of guacamole and basket of chips in front of me.  I’m good for the night.

Not only is the creamy dip yummy, guacamole is a treat I can indulge in without guilt! Avocados are good for you!

They’re full of monounsaturated fat and antioxidants. Avocados can help keep skin looking youthful by reducing inflammation. They’re also high in potassium, a mineral important to heart function. And the fat in avocados helps your body better absorb vitamins A, D and E. 

While classic guacamole is fine with me, a friend of mine likes to mix and mash her avocado dip – with amazing results.  I fell in love with her apple and mango guacamole and it got me to thinking.  What other creative combos might be out there – just waiting for a bag of salty, blue corn chips?

My search took me on an internet cooking tour where I found some great guacamole concoctions including a few from Oprah’s popular “O” Magazine. 

We’ll start with classic guacamole and go from there!

Classic Guacamole

4 ripe Haas avocados
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. finely minced garlic
Juice from one lime
1 jalapeno pepper (optional for this gringo gal!)
1 bunch cilantro, de-stemmed and chopped
½ medium Spanish or red onion finely minced

Now, to make a dip with a little attitude, start with the classic recipe and try one of these fun “adjustments!”

Goat Cheese and Poblano

Using a sheet tray, roast 1 poblano chile in 450 degree oven until skin starts to blacken and char, about 15 minutes.  Remove, let cool fully, then peel off skin.  Seed, de-stem and finely dice.  Chop 1 seeded plum tomato.  Fold poblano, tomato and 2 Tbsp crumbled goat cheese into guacamole.

Nutty Guacamole

Fold in ¼ cup chopped or toasted or candied nuts, such as pecans or walnuts.  (I love this one!)

BLT Guacamole

Chop and cook 3 strips of bacon.  Dice 1 seeded plum tomato.  Include ½ diced red onion.  Fold everything into guacamole.

Edamame Guacamole

Fold in ½ cup cooked edamame beans, 1 Tbsp hot chili sauce and a few minced basil leaves.

Margarita Guacamole

Stir in ¼ cup tequila and the zest of 1 lime.  Moisten the rim of a serving bowl and dip it in salt, then add quacamole.  (Hay carumba!  This is delicioso!)

Sushi Guacamole

Fold in 4 ounces chopped smoked salmon.  (Not my favorite, but you might love it!)

Oh!  Don’t forget my friend’s apple and mango guac!  (she got it from “O!”)

Apple and Mango Guacamole

Leave out the jalapeño from the base recipe. Dice 1 crisp apple (cored, skin on) and 1 peeled and pitted mango.  Mince a few basil leaves and 1 seeded Serrano chile.  Fold everything into guacamole.


Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.
Eat Your Veggies!
By Carol LeBeau
5/15/2012 2:12:17 PM


Mom always told me to eat my vegetables and she helped make it easy.  Even before the health experts began touting the benefits of a diet rich in veggies, she made sure dinner at home included everything from beans and broccoli to beets and butternut squash.

When it came to nutrition, Mom was way ahead of her time.  Today my Mom’s yummy yams, crisp cucumber salad and succulent sweet corn are nutritional rock stars!

Health experts agree that vegetables – like fruits are low in fat, but contain substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals.  Vegetables are also home for many anti-oxidants that help the body fend off stress and disease by boosting immunity.  In addition, vegetables contain soluble as well as insoluble dietary fiber and are relatively low in calories.

Even with that knowledge and good upbringing, over the years, I’d somehow fallen into a vegetable rut.  My veggie rotation became a bore…the same old steamed broccoli, carrots and green beans or a simple spinach salad……until last weekend!   While visiting dear friends in the Phoenix area, I’m on a veggie high!

Let me explain.  My friend, Lisa is an amazing cook.  I mean like Rachel Ray amazing.   As we talked, I watched in rapt amazement as she displayed her culinary skills.  Without a break in our conversation, Lisa whipped up a fresh mozzerella and heirloom tomato with balsamic glaze garnished with basil appetizer (the Food Channel has never seen a prettier presentation!)… tended to a fine fillet of wild Alaskan salmon simmering on the barbecue (on a cedar plank, of course!)...all the while keeping an eye on the oven in which a sourdough loaf was browning and a pan of vegetables slowly roasting.  She never broke a sweat.

The entire meal was amazing – but those vegetables were like nothing I’d eaten since Mom’s cooking back in Iowa.   There must have been 15 different veggies lightly bubbling in Lisa’s roasting pan…cauliflower, beets, red bell peppers, carrots, potatoes, Brussels sprouts – even parsnips!   I hadn’t eaten a parsnip in years!

Lisa’s recipe is surprisingly easy…no secret ingredients…just a variety of fresh vegetables from her local farmer’s market.  Just pick up a couple of everything and you can feed a crowd.  Because the veggies aren’t overcooked, they’re just as good warmed up the next day.

Lisa’s Roasted Veggies

Cut veggies in medium size, uniform bites.  Add garlic and yellow onion to the mix.  Coat with extra virgin olive oil plus 2 TBSP of butter.  Add salt, pepper, and/or an all spice seasoning.  Put in a roasting pan and spread veggies evenly.  Cover and bake at 400 for 45 minutes. 


Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Crazy for Kiwis!
By Carol LeBeau
4/3/2012 2:20:10 PM

When I need a pick-me-up, there’s nothing that works like fresh fruit…especially when that mid-afternoon slump leaves me listless and low on “mo.” When my focus fades, I can always count on a crisp apple, sweet pear or a big bunch of juicy grapes to lift me from the fog.

But lately, I’ve become fond of a fruit I frequently overlooked while perusing the produce at my local market.  Call me Mrs. Excitement, but I’ve gone crazy for kiwis! The seasonal super fruit can be a sensational addition to many of your favorite recipes – and it’s so good for you!

First imported from New Zealand, but now grown in the United States, the furry brown kiwi has a sweet-tart flavor and loads of nutrients – all wrapped up in a cute little package. 

Kiwis can:

*Fight off the Flu: Just two kiwis (a measly 90 calories) provide a whopping 230 percent of your daily requirement of immune-boosting vitamin C.

*Protect Your Peepers: Kiwis contain a plant pigment called lutein, which can help prevent cataracts.

*Control Cholesterol: Kiwis are an excellent source of soluble fiber, which helps sweep cholesterol out of your body.

*Keep Skin Clear: The skin-beautifying antioxidant vitamin E is ordinarily found in high-fat foods like nuts, but kiwis are a great, low-fat source.

Plus, kiwis are fun! I use ‘em to change up my favorite salads.  Try this recipe on your next dinner guests.  I guarantee rave reviews!


Kiwi, Goat Cheese and Toasted Pecan Salad

  • 8 kiwis
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 10-oz field greens
  • 4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup pecans, toasted

Mash ½ cup cubed kiwis with fork; press pulp through fine mesh sieve set over bowl to extract 2 tbsp. juice.  Whisk in olive oil, vinegar and ½ tsp. each salt and pepper.  Place greens in bowl and toss with dressing; divide among plates and top with remaining kiwi cubes, cheese and pecans.  Serves 4.

And before I go….you simply have to try this super-simple, super-delicious

Kiwi Compote

  • 5 kiwis, peeled and quartered
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 3 tbsp. sugar

In mini food processor, pulse kiwis just until coarsely mashed; transfer to small saucepan and stir in raisins and sugar.  Simmer over medium heat, stirring until thickened, 12-14 minutes.  Scrape into bowl and set aside to cool completely (it will get thicker as it cools). Store in fridge.  Makes about 1½ cups.

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

By Carol LeBeau
3/4/2012 2:21:13 PM

I’m writing this from home as I recover from major surgery.  I’m feeling much better now, but the first couple of weeks were tough…pain (pain meds!) fatigue, and the inability to do much of anything but rest and heal.  

While grateful to loved ones who sent flowers and cards and called to check on me, I will never forget the kindness of a group of women who reached out to me in a way I could not have imagined…helping Tom and I get through those first, difficult weeks in a way that was loving, personal…and practical.

The beautiful ladies in my Bible study group got together and decided to minister to me with meals!  What a gift!  Every day, a delicious, nutritious, home-cooked meal appeared on our doorstep…lovingly prepared by a different gal each day.  When I learned how my friends organized such a feat, I just had to tell you about it. 

Our study group leader, Dana, used a nifty website called MealTrain.com.  The site makes it easy to organize meals for someone going through a tough spate..  It’s free and you can put the word out via e-mail and/or Facebook.   

Before my surgery, Dana asked about my food preferences and whether Tom and I had any food allergies…then each lady in our group went to the site and picked a day and a meal she’d like to bring.  (That helped prevent the delivery of four lazagne dinners in a row!)

When all I could do was lay around and wait for the haze from the anesthesia to lift, angels appeared each day…Mandy with her warm and hearty chicken and veggie penne pasta… Monica with her cool and tangy taco salad and Vicki with her secret recipe chicken and rice soup.  As the pain subsided, I was nourished with more of my favorites… turkey chili and cornbread, beef and barley soup…even salmon and wild rice from sweet Lauren.

With a little help from an innovative website, my friends brought a little joy  and sustenance to a couple going through a tough time.   I can’t recall ever feeling more loved and cared for. 

Meals, of course, are a great way to communicate love and care in a variety of circumstances-

*when a new family moves into the neighborhood
*when there’s a death
*when someone is ill, injured or hospitalized
*when a woman friend suffers a miscarriage or during a difficult pregnancy
*when there’s a new baby
*when someone’s spouse has been recently deployed 

It may not seem like a big deal, but those meals…prepared and delivered so lovingly…help heal, body and soul.  I’ll never forget the kindness of those dear ladies and I pray a huge blessing on each one of them.  For me those meals were grace made edible. 

For more information, go to www.MealTrain.com.

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Red versus white. What's your chili preference?
By Carol LeBeau
2/1/2012 3:24:14 PM

And then there were two! The Super Bowl matchup is officially set. The Giants and Patriots will kick off Sunday, February 5 at 6:30 p.m. ET and all eyes will be on Indianapolis. 

While some 70,000 lucky fans will jam Lucas Oil Stadium to watch the annual spectacle in person, the rest of us mere mortals will be watching the Big Game on big screens in living rooms and sports bars around the country. 

And let’s not forget, the players aren’t the only ones expending energy that night.  As fans, we’ve got to power through the turnovers, sacks and dropped passes, too…not to mention Madonna’s half-time performance and the serious critique of the best (and worst!) TV commercials.  So be sure to fortify yourself with plenty of good eats. 

At my house, no Super Bowl game is complete without a pot of steaming, hot chili.  But this year’s chili is going to be a little different.  There’ll be no kidney beans, tomatoes or beef…nothing red at all.  I’m planning to score points with my family and friends with my somewhat unconventional….white chili! 

This year’s game may be a super sequel of the 2008 match-up between New York and New England – but your chili doesn’t have to be a replay. This year, wow ‘em with something wonderfully white! 

Here are two of my favorite white chili recipes.  Both fit my culinary criterion…easy, tasty and nutritious and husband, Tom gives them a big thumbs-up! The first recipe is from my friend, Carole McCormack, with her permission! 


1 lb. chicken or turkey, cooked and cut into pieces (Carole suggests baking boneless breasts…350-degree oven…about 40 minutes)
½ cup carrots, diced
½ cup celery, diced
1 14-oz. can white beans (undrained)
1 14-oz. can chicken broth
1 4-oz. can diced green chilies
½ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. pepper
½ cup sour cream
¾ cup Monterey Jack cheese 

Assemble the chicken all other ingredients (except sour cream and cheese) in a pot….simmer for one hour.  Before serving, add Jack cheese and sour cream to pot….continue simmering until cheeses are blended.

Serve with hearty, whole grain or sour dough bread.  Enjoy! 

My sister-in-law, Patsy served the next white chili recipe on a “chilly” evening at their home in western Virginia…but the flavor was distinctly southwest! 


1 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves cut into cubes
4 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 large onion, chopped
1 med. green pepper, chopped
1 can (10 ½ oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup (I use the 98% fat-free)
¾ cup chicken broth
1 ½ cups frozen whole kernel corn
2 cans (about 15-oz. each) white kidney beans (cannellini) rinsed and drained
2 tbsp. shredded cheddar cheese

1. Heat oil in 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat.  Ad chicken, chili powder, cumin, onion and pepper and cook until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender…stirring often.

2. Stir soup, broth, corn and beans in saucepan and heat to a boil.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover and cook 5 min…stirring occasionally.  Sprinkle with cheese.

**For added zing, Patsy adds a tsp. of Texas Pete hot sauce.  Yee Haw!!  

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

The Amazing Apple
By Carol LeBeau
1/4/2012 2:06:30 PM

Forget berries – today’s trendy apples are all the rage! 

Apples.  They’re in the same food group as many of the other nutrient-rich foods we’re encouraged to eat each day.  But have you noticed your favorite Fuji doesn’t get the same pub as some of the flashier fruits and veggies out there?  Check out any “top 10” list of power-packed fruits and poor old Granny Smith doesn’t even make the cut.  The mighty McIntosh is forced to take a back seat to “super fruits” such as pomegranates and goji berries. 

Why is that?  Growing up, apples were a healthy mainstay in my diet alongside a sandwich and Oreos in my lunch box – sliced and dipped in peanut butter for an after-school snack…cooked into a sweet sauce with pork chops for dinner.   Whatever happened to, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away?!” 

Apples may get overlooked because they’re considered commonplace.  Well, I beg to differ! If you’re bored with Red Delicious, may I suggest you sink your teeth into one of the popular, new apple hybrids? With voluptuous varieties such as Honey Crisp, Ginger Gold, Ruby Jon and Lady Suncrisp – how much more excitement do you need?  I just topped off my typical turkey-on-whole-grain-bread-sandwich lunch with a burst of flavor from an Arkansas Black...tart, sweet…and so deep red in color it’s almost black!  

Boring?  I don’t think so. Apples come in more than 80 varieties. (makes the acai berry seem not-so super!) From Gala to Jonathan...Rome to Braeburn, apples are not only fun, they’re good for you – full of vitamin C, fiber, heart-healthy anti-oxidants and a host of other health benefits: 

1. Bone Protection: A flavanoid called phloridzin – found only in apples may protect post-menopausal women from osteoporosis, and may also increase bone density. Boron, another ingredient in apples, also strengthens bones. 

2. Asthma Help:  A recent study shows that children with asthma who drank apple juice every day suffered from less wheezing than children who drank apple juice less frequently.  Another study shows children born to women who eat a lot of apples during pregnancy have lower rates of asthma. 

3. Alzheimer’s Protection: A Cornell University study found that the quercetin in apples may protect brain cells from the kind of free radical damage that may lead to Alzheimer’s. 

4. Lower Cholesterol: The pectin in apples lowers LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by as much as 16 percent. 

5. Lung Cancer Protection: According to a study of 10,000 people, those who ate the most apples had a 50 percent lower risk of developing lung cancer – believed to be due to the high levels of the flavanoids quercetin and naringin in apples. 

6. Breast Cancer Prevention: A Cornell University study found rats who ate an apple a day reduced their risk of breast cancer by 17 percent.  Rats fed three apples per day reduced their risk by 39 percent.  Those who ate 6 apples had a 44 percent lower risk! 

7. ColonCancer Protection: One study found that rats fed an extract from apple skins had a 43 percent lower risk of colon cancer. Other research shows the pectin in apples reduces the risk of colon cancer and helps maintain a healthy digestive tract. 

8. Liver Cancer Protection: Researchers found rats fed an extract from apple skins had a 57 percent lower risk of liver cancer. 

9. Diabetes Management: The pectin in apples supplies galacturonic acid to the body which lowers the body’s need for insulin and may help in the management of diabetes. 

10. Weight Loss: A Brazilian study found that women who ate three apples or pears per day lost more weight than women who did not eat fruit while dieting. 

So, go ahead.  Eat your fancy fruit but don’t forget to add an apple once in awhile.  A winsome Winesap may have caused problems in the Garden of Eden, but when it comes to nutrition, apples are all good.

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Chocolate - The Gift that Keeps on Giving
By Carol LeBeau
12/2/2011 3:16:59 PM


'Tis the season for over-indulgence! The holidays are here and that means eating, drinking and feeling bad about it later! 

Well, here’s some news that may put the cheer back into your holidays. Some of those decadent desserts you’d die for may actually be good for your health! Just make sure you go for the chocolate! Chocolate cake. Chocolate frosting. Chocolate chips. It’s ok! According to the latest medical research, your affinity for chocolate may just save your life!    

The health benefits of chocolate - especially dark chocolate - have been touted for years through many small-scale studies. But now, it’s hard to deny the cold, hard, scientific fact that chocolate - consumed in moderation - can be a healthy addition to your diet.  

Hundreds of studies have now been compiled and the science shows dark chocolate (that luscious, melt-in-your-mouth Dove Bar) is actually packed with antioxidants that promote heart health and may even prevent many cardiovascular-related conditions.  

But there’s more! Health experts have found five more surprising health benefits in that box of See’s chocolates.  Take a look. Call it an early holiday gift - from Yours, Truly! 

1. Chocolate May Help You With Math: Flavonols, compounds in chocolate with antioxidant-like properties, are thought to improve circulation including blood flow to the brain. A recent study asked participants to count backward in groups of three from 999. After drinking hot cocoa, the participants were able to do calculations more quickly and accurately and were less likely to feel tired or mentally drained. 

2. Chocolate Fills You Up: Moms have forever warned of spoiling dinner by eating a treat beforehand. Turns out, they were right.  Danish researchers gave 16 participants 100 grams of either dark or milk chocolate and two hours later offered them pizza. Those who consumed the dark chocolate ate 15 percent fewer calories than those who ate milk chocolate, and they were less interested in fatty, salty and sugary foods. 

3. Chocolate Makes You Feel Better: (Who needs a studyto know that?!) Chocolate contains phenethylamine, which triggers the release of endorphins. This reaction is similar to that experienced when we fall in love. Seriously!  Doctors at the Mind Lab in England asked six couples to let squares of dark chocolate melt in their mouths and then kiss…all while hooked up to brain and heart monitors.  Both tasks made their hearts pound and brains buzz - but chocolate doubled excitation rates in the brains’ pleasure center, especially in women. Researchers said cocoa’s blend of sugar and caffeine produces a longer-lasting high than a good smooch! 

4. Chocolate Helps You Relax:  Reach for a Hershey bar when you’re stressed?   There’s a biological reason for that. Studies show chocolate contains the compound anandamide that activates the same brain receptors as marijuana.  No wonder a bite brings on bliss! 

5. Chocolate May Help You Live Longer:  According to the British Medical journal…almost a year longer! Participants who ate candy one to three times a month (that’s it??!) had the lowest mortality rates of the group…probably due to the antioxidant in chocolate. A recent study also found that heart attack survivors who ate chocolate were less likely to die than those who went without. 

So, go ahead…bring on that bag of dark chocolate M&M’s! Just make sure you stick to a one-ounce serving to get your fix without wrecking your waistline. 

Oh, and don’t thank me.  Just make sure I find a dark chocolate Santa in my Christmas stocking!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.