‘Pie hole’, colloquial for one’s mouth, is believed to have evolved in the USA in the 1980s from the British expression ‘cake hole’ (coined in the mid 20th century). Pie hole refers to a mouth, as in: Shut your pie hole or, in this case: Put less in your pie hole.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Cocoa and Coffee: Convincingly Cracking Consumables

If you like coffee or chocolate, you'll want to devour this article! We're doing a crossover episode combining two of the most popular consumables in the world into one considerably charming article for your consumption.

It's pretty good news for both the coffee and cocoa lovers, with a couple of minor caveats.

Let's cover coffee first. Two large-scale, long-term studies came out this week. Collectively, they ground... I mean, found:
  • People consuming one cup of coffee/day were 12% less likely to die compared to non-coffee drinkers
  • People drinking two cups of coffee/day were 18% less likely to die compared to non-coffee drinkers
  • People drinking the most coffee had the lowest risk of dying from any disease
  • The ethnically diverse study found the coffee-consuming crowd, whether decaf or regular, had similar positive health effects
  • An inverse association exists between coffee consumption and deaths caused by heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, and kidney disease
    • Meaning, more coffee = lower chance of dying from the above diseases
Here are the coffee caveats that are cause for concern, tamp down your expectations:
  • Paying attention to how hot your brewed beverage is... Scoffing your scorching blend can lead to esophageal cancer
  • Much previous research into coffee found high coffee consumption wasn't actually beneficial for disease prevention and that moderation really was key
  • Akin to deep-frying a vegetable, saucing your coffee with cream, sugar, and syrups won't help your health due to the many side effects of too much sugar and too many calories
Now, onto my favourite... Chocolate. A day that goes by without eating a good quality, dark chocolate is a day wasted (that's my motto.) Okay, okay, I'll tell you about the cocoa hype, but first a little background.

It's long been known that cocoa is rich in flavonoids, particularly the sub-class called flavanols, and more specifically epicatechins and catechins. These flavanols exert cardiovascular benefits including lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow. More recently, we're learning about their neuroprotective effects.

Flavonoids and their metabolites can cross the blood brain barrier and have been found in areas associated with learning and memory such as the hippocampus, cerebral cortex, cerebellum, and striatum. New research found:
  • Consuming a daily high-flavonol drink enhanced cognitive performance in both older people with and without early memory decline
  • Higher flavanol levels also improved blood pressure and insulin resistance
  • Within hours of consuming a high-flavanol beverage, enhanced performance on various cognitive tasks significantly increased
  • Cocoa flavanols were also able to counteract cognitive impairment induced by sleep deprivation in healthy women... Something most mothers of young babies might rejoice about
Cocoa caveats to unwrap include:
  • Research into chocolate and cocoa on human cognition is still young
  • Dose, timing, and kind of flavanol requires further investigation
  • Similar to consuming a deep-fried vegetable, to get the benefit of cocoa flavanols, quality is key
    • The above research used a beverage with about 900mg of cocoa flavanols
    • Flavanol content is largely based on chocolate brand and processing, you can read more on that here and here
  • Choose dark chocolate over milk or white chocolate (let's be honest, if it's not even brown, it's not chocolate)
  • Select unsweetened cocoa powder when making your brownies or hot chocolate rather than presweetened powders like Ovaltine and Swiss Miss, this not only boosts flavanols but also slashes sugar (it's cheaper too)
  • Writing articles about chocolate and coffee increases the writer's consumption of both products
Cheers to you, coffee for decreasing death. And melt mindfully in your mouth, chocolate for marvelous mental mastery.