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When It Comes to Chocolate - Go Dark
By Carol LeBeau
2/14/2013 9:24:21 AM


When it Comes to Chocolate – Go Dark

There’s a new Walgreens in my neighborhood. The other day I decided to stop by the shiny, new store and pick up some eye drops. It didn’t take long to realize at Walgreens, love is definitely in the air.

My senses were overwhelmed with wall to wall displays of Valentine’s Day “stuff” from teddy bears and balloons to cards and, of course, aisles of chocolate.

With Cupid just around the corner, many of us have chocolate on our minds. And though you may fear the number of calories in those heart-shaped boxes, there are many reasons to love Valentine’s Day goodies…especially the dark chocolate treats.

I’ll bet most of you are aware of the anti-oxidant properties of dark chocolate. Anti-oxidants are those “scavengers” in the body that gobble up dangerous free radicals and other destructive molecules known to have a role in the spread of cancer.

Among foods such as fruits, veggies and teas, dark chocolate is actually one of the highest sources of two powerful anti-oxidants caked flavonoids and catechins. But wait! There’s more good news for your chocolate lovers. Here are five more reasons to treat yourself to a bite of chocolate:

1. It helps you exercise longer: A recent study found eating a tiny amount of dark chocolate before a workout helps fight fatigue. That amount used in the study was tiny…just half a square, but if it’s good quality chocolate, a small square will go a long way.

2. It’s stress relieving: When highly stressed study participants ate an ounce and a half of dark chocolate (the equivalent of a Hershey’s Bar) a day for two weeks, the level of stress hormones in their bodies dropped significantly. While eating a candy bar a day can contribute to a whole new set of stresses if you’re watching your weight, it’s nice to know that dark chocolate has a measurable effect on stress levels. (Swap out the calories from a glass of wine and you won’t gain an ounce!)

3. It’s heart-healthy: Numerous studies have found that dark chocolate increases blood flow, which keeps your ticker in top shape. Those who ate small amounts of
chocolate a day had increased blood flow due to more dilated blood vessels, in addition to better heart function.

4. It’s good when you’re sick: If you can’t get the rest you need because of a nagging cough, try dark chocolate. Theobromine, an ingredient in the chocolate, has been proven to suppress a cough. Just be careful. If you’re trying to go to sleep, remember that a dark chocolate Hershey’s Bar has 30 milligrams of caffeine…the equivalent to a cup of tea.

5. It lowers blood pressure: Increasing blood flow also helps your heart in another way. A study found that eating a small square of dark chocolate a day helps regulate your blood pressure by increasing blood flow as well as dilating blood vessels and releasing nitric oxide. If you’re managing your blood pressure levels, a daily, small dose of dark chocolate may help!

So, there you have it. This Valentine’s Day, don’t be afraid to go for the chocolate –
just make sure it’s dark.

(And would one of you please remind my husband that See’s dark chocolate assortment is my fave? And yes, you can tell him I’ll share.)

Have a Happy, Healthy Valentine’s Day!

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

Have you seen "The SDSU Show?"
By Carol LeBeau
2/10/2013 1:29:20 PM

Have you seen a San Diego State Aztecs men’s basketball game lately? And I don’t mean on TV but up close and personal inside the Viejas Arena? OH MY GOSH! I haven’t been to something so fun and entertaining since the Rolling Stones performed at the “Q” back n the 90’s!

I confess, I hadn’t been to an Aztecs game in years. And it’s my loss. I had no idea what I’d been missing as the Aztecs men’s basketball program has grown in recent years.

Our friends had extra tickets to the Mountain West conference match-up between SDSU and the Colorado State Rams January 12 and invited us to join them. Longtime Aztec fans, Susan and Tony didn’t warn us about the two-hour electric extravaganza we were about to experience. They just smiled as we made our way into the arena – the venue literally pulsating from the cheering crowd, heart-pounding music and super-hyped videos designed to fire up a crowd that was already on fire!

Known as an exciting team, the Aztecs did not disappoint. In an overtime thriller, Chase Tapley scored 12 points in OT including two three-pointers to power the nation’s 16th ranked team to a 79-72 victory over the Rams. What a nail biter!

But while the game alone was a heart-pounding thrill, it was the show within a “show” that provided an additional dose of adrenaline. The famous “SDSU Show” is the name of the Aztec’s student section. And what a show it is!

Behind the basket near the visiting team’s bench, hundreds of chanting students, cheerleaders, dancers and SDSU’s high-octane band take their enthusiasm to a fever pitch and never let up from the opening tip-off until the clock runs out in the second half.

The arena literally rocks as the most vocal and creative student section in college basketball shout encouraging chants such as “I Believe,” “Tarzan Boy by Baltimora” and “Aztecs Bombaye” to the home team, then attempt to rattle their opposition by waving giant, random cut-out faces during free-throws. With Sylvester Stallone and Angelina Jolie, Dick Cheney and Gandhi literally in the Rams’ face, it’s a wonder they got off a single free throw.

With silly songs, creative chants and crazy costumes, The Show is literally a force of nature in Viejas Arena. With triple decibel shouting, dancing, jumping and other theatrics – I believe The Show literally carries their beloved Aztecs to victory.

Basketball season is still young. Don’t to let another year go by without experiencing the red-hot Aztecs and their insanely faithful fans. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.

Go Aztecs!

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

A Dog's Purpose
By Carol LeBeau
2/4/2013 2:11:08 PM

I recently read a story about a veterinarian, a 6-year-old boy and his dog, Belker, that so touched me, I’m passing it along to you.

A veterinarian was called to examine Belker, a 10-year-old Irish Wolfhound. The dog’s owner, Ron, his wife Lisa and their little boy Shane were all very attached to sweet Belker and they were hoping for a miracle.

After examining Belker, the vet told the family the sad news. Belker was dying of cancer. The doctor said there was nothing that could be done for Belker and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

All agreed it would be good for little Shane to observe the procedure to help the boy experience closure.

The doctor said he felt a catch in his throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time. He also wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without and difficulty or confusion.

As the doctor tells it, they all sat together for a while, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, “I know why.”

What came out of the 6-year-olds mouth stunned all of them. None of them had ever heard a more comforting explanation. So profound were the boy’s words, the vet says it’s changed the way he tries to live.

Shane said, “People are born so they can learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?”

The little boy continued, “Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

Wow! “Out of the mouths of babes” comes a profound lesson.

Think about it, if dogs were teachers, you would learn things like:

- When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
- Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
- Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
- Take naps.
- Stretch before rising.
- Run, romp and play daily.
- Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
- Avoid biting when a simply growl will do.
- On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
- On hot days, drink lots of water and lie on your back on the grass.
- When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
- Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
- Be loyal.
- Never be something you’re not.
- If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
- When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

If you’ve been going through a rough patch and feeling blue – think of the wisdom from 6-year-old Shane. Maybe we’re taking it all a little too seriously!

I’m heading outside to lie in the grass! Care to join me?

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

Listen to Your Heart
By Carol LeBeau
2/1/2013 3:22:49 PM

Emily Taylor hasn’t missed the Susan G. Komen 3-Day™ walk for breast cancer in nine years. Along with tens of thousands of other enthusiastic pink-clad advocates, the 48-year-old Northrup-Grummon administrative assistant makes the annual 60-mile trek in passionate support of her sister and other breast cancer survivors.

But Emily, a wife and mother of three, came dangerously close to missing her 10th Komen 3-Day in October. While on a training run a couple months earlier, the avid softball player and triathlete came face to face with a disease even more deadly for women than breast cancer.

A mile into her routine run, the Ramona resident felt something “really different.” She described it as a “very centered, deep chest pain.” Emily admits, “I didn’t think it was a heart thing.” She figured she’d pulled a chest muscle moving boxes days earlier. No big deal.

During a subsequent workout, not only did the chest pain return, but it was accompanied by an “odd feeling” in both arms. “This isn’t right,” she thought. So the next day, Emily headed to the Urgent Care at Arch Health Partners in Poway to get checked out. Good decision. Within hours, Emily learned what she was experiencing was indeed a “heart thing.”

While a breast cancer diagnosis can be terrifying, heart disease is actually the number one killer of women…more deadly, in fact, than all forms of cancer combined. Thankfully, Emily did not become a statistic. And she owes that fact to her own action and the prompt, professional care she received at Palomar Health.

It wasn’t an easy diagnosis, which is often the case in women, but a couple of irregularities on her EKG (electrocardiogram) was enough to alert the attention of cardiologist Dr. Bill Joswig, who ordered a stress test at Pomerado Hospital. This test confirmed there was a problem and Emily was whisked to the new Palomar Medical Center (PMC) for an angiogram in the facility’s state-of-the-art Cardiac Catheterization Lab.

Emily’s symptoms were the first indication a serious problem. By the time she arrived at PMC, she was a ticking time bomb. Emily’s left anterior descending artery (ADA) was 95 percent blocked. That’s the scenario that often leads to a deadly outcome known as the “widow maker.”

Because of quick action by her doctors and access to the latest technology and skilled staff in PMC’s Cath Lab, Emily not only avoided a fatal heart attack, but open-heart surgery as well. During her procedure, cardiologist Dr. Mikhail Malek re-opened Emily’s blocked artery and placed a stent. Today, she’s not only back at work, she’s symptom-free and training for a half Ironman later this year!

I love happy endings, but that’s not always how this story goes. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease kills an average of one woman every minute. But making the diagnosis can be a challenge, as Emily experienced, because women’s symptoms often differ from those in men.

As manager of PMC’s Cath Lab, Nancy Islas can attest to the fact that women are more likely to experience subtle and vague symptoms. “I see women with acute fatigue, weakness, indigestion, upper back pain and abdominal pain,” says Islas. “Even hot flashes can be symptomatic of heart disease.”

Emily credits her return to health to Palomar Health’s caring, competent staff and cutting edge technology. Whether it’s 3-D imaging or intravascular ultrasound, Islas explains that all of the diagnostic tools are incorporated for quick and easy access. “We have an expression,” says Islas. “Time is muscle. Our goal is to get that artery opened up. Once the heart muscle is dead, it’s too late.”

We women can all learn from Emily’s experience about the need to be vigilant when it comes to our health. As a breast cancer patient, I believe we all need to “think pink” in the fight against a disease that kills one in 31 women. But now that I know more about the disease that takes the lives of one in three women, I also plan to “Go Red” this February, heart month, in the fight against heart disease.

Ladies (and gentlemen), the take-away from Emily’s story is clear. Listen to your body. If you know something’s “not right,” don’t risk becoming a statistic. Get checked out.

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