Some of our favorite foods are having a very good week — in the usual medical journals and at the San Diego gathering of the American Chemical Society that ends today.
Popcorn, for instance, won accolades as the “perfect snack food” because, according to a University of Scranton chemist, a serving has twice the polyphenols of most fruits or vegetables. Compared with fruits and veggies, which are largely water, popcorn, says Vinson, packs a more concentrated dose of the phytonutrients, which are thought to prevent cellular oxidation, the start of all things bad.
Chocolate also got a boost this week, in an article published by the Archives of Internal Medicine. A UC San Diego researcher found that those who reported eating the most chocolate had lower body-mass indices than did respondents who reported little to no chocolate consumption, despite the finding that both groups appeared to consume roughly equal calories.
Research shows that cocoa-derived epicatechin — once again, a polyphenol — appears to positively affect metabolic function and promote lean muscle mass over fat deposition.
Chili peppers got a thumbs up, too. Research from the Chinese University of Hong Kong found that capsaicinoids — the chemicals that give habaneros, jalapenos, cayennes and other chili peppers their heat — boost heart health by supporting the breakdown and removal of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol from the blood and blocking the action of a gene that makes blood vessels contract. Add a little fire to the plasma, it turns out, and the blood flows more freely.
And then there was the extract of green coffee beans. While it has only half the caffeine of a cup of coffee, and might not taste so good straight from the capsule, it might help with weight loss, and more specifically, with loss of body fat — again, possibly by boosting metabolic function.