More good news for dark chocolate lovers. Researchers at the University of L'Aquila in Italy found that dark chocolate may help the body use insulin more effectively and decrease blood pressure.
The study, published by the American Society of Clinical Nutrition, tested the effects of both dark chocolate and white chocolate on a group of healthy adults. Dark chocolate contains sugar and cocoa solids but no milk solids (milk chocolate contains both sugar and milk solids and was not used in the study).
White chocolate, though called chocolate, does not contain any cocoa solids. It is made of cocoa butter (the fat in chocolate), milk solids and sugar. The study found that participants who ate 100 grams of dark chocolate every day for 15 days had lower blood pressure and were more sensitive to insulin than they were at the beginning.
The benefits of dark chocolate are believed to come from flavonoids, a class of plant chemicals found in many foods. The flavonoids in cocoa solids are associated with a lower risk of heart disease and some cancers. White chocolate showed no effect in this study because it doesn't contain cocoa solids.
The sweet potato, one of fall's brightest nutritional stars, is an excellent source of
beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A, an essential ingredient for cell growth and development.
One medium sweet potato gives you more than 100 per cent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of this vitamin and has about the same number of calories as a white potato. It's sensational in soups and salads, or baked or mashed as a vitamin-packed side dish, and you can usually substitute it for white potato or pumpkin in recipes.
One medium sweet potato also contains:
• Calories: 150
• Vitamin C: 28 milligrams (37% RDA*)
• Vitamin B6: 0.3 milligrams (23% RDA)
• Folate: 28 micrograms (7% RDA)
• Iron: 0.7 milligrams (4% RDA**)
• Fibre: 5 grams (with skin)
• Potassium: 400 milligrams
*for women **for women aged 19 to 50