Health & Fitness

This just in: Eat chocolate

HealthDiseases and IllnessesDeathNational Institutes of Health

Lately I've tried to make sense of the dizzying news from the world of nutritional science. Believe me, it hasn't been easy.

Let's steep right in with the news about dark tea, which scientists suggest we drink in great quantities every day to promote bone density. But wait, I'm already drinking eight glasses of water daily; adding to this liquid load just won't work. There are only so many potty breaks one can take in a day before the boss notices, sidles over to you and asks if you need to see a urologist.

Now this next news will certainly come as a stunner -- bad marriages and job stress are bad for the heart! However, more research is needed, and scientists are recruiting volunteers with lousy spouses and even worse jobs on whom to test this theory. Anyone interested should call the National Institutes of Health, but probably only when the spouse or boss isn't listening.

If I were an entrepreneur, I'd target the vast market of the unhappily married and stressfully employed with a pomegranate juice-collard green smoothie. Why? In other health news, the greens are thought to prevent Alzheimer's disease, and pomegranate juice may stop plaque buildup in the arteries. Of course, it may, and it may not. More research is needed.

Unfortunately, the news about fish continues to smell fishy. On the one hand, people with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids have dramatically lower chances of dying from a sudden heart attack than those with low levels of the fatty acids.

On the other hand, some fish contains so much mercury that pregnant women must not eat more than one tuna sandwich a month, lest they accidentally retard the brain development of their unborn children. Naturally, other experts have concluded that fish is the best kind of "brain food" there is.

Must we choose between eating to preserve our brains and eating to preserve our hearts? My brain can't process any more of this information. Is it because I had tuna for lunch?

And this just in: Low-fat diets, for years touted as a boon for weight control and disease prevention, really make little real difference in either after all. Seems they forgot to distinguish between "good" and "bad" fats in their research. Oops!

The only unadulterated good news is about chocolate, maliciously maligned as a source of migraine headaches.

New evidence proves that dark chocolate not only improves mood (as my kids would say, "Duh!"), but also is loaded with antioxidants. White chocolate has no antioxidants, which is further proof, as if any were needed, that white chocolate is totally useless.

Now just sit back, tear off a nice dark chunk of chocolate (food of the gods), consume with a cup of black tea and remember: Reading too many articles about nutritional research has been associated with a 100% higher stress level.

Judy Gruen's newest book is "The Women's Daily Irony Supplement." She lives in Los Angeles with her family. Read more of her work at www.judygruen.com.

My Turn is a forum for readers to recount an experience or air an opinion related to health or fitness. To submit an article, e-mail health@latimes.com or write to Health, 202 W. 1st St., L.A., CA 90012. Articles should be 500 words or shorter.

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