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Saturday, June 20, 2015

FROM PLANET MARS TO MARS CHOCOLATE

The past couple of days have been a bit heavy with Mars and human cloning, so, this being a Saturday, let me bring you up to date with a few lighter items:
  1. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Los Angeles (SPCALA) annually selects a National Hero Dog.  Note that this is a rather minor award compared to the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards, where a range of dogs of various categories are voted on with a deadline this year of June 26.  All the finalists are dogs, with the Hallmark Channel covering the ceremony.  Anyway, this year, SPCALA selected a cat, Tara:

There are various You Tube versions, but this Today Show clip has drawn more than 3 million views, and shows a tabby cat (Tara)  in Bakersfield, California saving an autistic boy (Jeremy Triantafilo) from an attacking dog.  Tara earned a one year supply of cat food and has become even more famous than when this You Tube sensation became viral a little more than a  year ago.  Then there is Jack, the pit bull, who saved his best friend, Kitty, a cat, from bring eaten by coyotes.

2.  You can read the details here, but a major study again showed that chocolate prevents heart disease, or maybe more specifically, the polyphenyls (mind you, there are at least 8,000 different kinds of polyphenyls) in cocoa strengthens your blood vessels.  The difference is significant:
  • heavy chocolate consumers were 25% less likely to suffer a wide range of cardiovascular illnesses and 45% lived longer,
  • while two candy bars/day subjects seemed to fare best, you got to wonder about the sugar and calories,
  • yet, this  highest chocolate-consuming group not only resisted heart attack and strokes, but also had lower body-mass indexes, better blood pressure/inflammation levels and reduced incidence of diabetes, and
  • chocolate also protects your skin from the sun and improves your brain.
Dark chocolates are the best, for they have less sugar and dairy products.  Flavonoids, a sub-category of polyphenyls, which are also found in certain teas, wine, fruits and vegetables,  are generally cited as the favorable compound.  Here is a list of which foodstuffs are high in this magic compound.   
According to this review, the best three are #1 Equal Exchange (above), #2 Alter Eco and #3 Vosges.  A top ten was provided, but I've never heard of any of them.  The editors of The Huffington Post tasted a large number of dark chocolates ranging from 50% to 85% cocoa, $1.79 to $7.99, and found that two of the top five came from Trader Joe's (72% Cacao Dark Chocolate at #2 and Fair Trade Swiss Dark Chocolate at 71%--#1 was Michel Cluizel Noir de Cacao, 72%), and were affordable.  There must be something to 71%-72%, for Equal Exchange has 71% cacao.   I did not see anything from Nestle, Hershey and Mars in the top twenty.  

Finally, why does Japan like Hershey's (created by Nestle) Kit Kat?  No, nothing to do with Hello Kitty.  Kit Kat, which is pronounced Kitto Katsu, means "surely win" in Japanese.  That is by far the best selling alien chocolate in the country.  I like to recommend things to Japan, for my ancestors come from that country, so let me continue by suggesting that they should stop consuming Kit Kat, as it is bad for their health, garnering a D+ rating by Calorie Count.

Kit Kat, by the way, is the 10th best selling candy bar in the world.  The list, is dominated by Nestle, Hershey and Mars, with #1, at $2 billion/year worth, being....ta-da...Snickers!  So from the Planet Mars to the best selling candy bar in the world, sold by Mars, which, incidentally, is the largest chocolate company on Planet Earth.

I had chocolate for breakfast today.  And, yes, you can purchase dark chocolate powder, but they cost a lot.  Dark Red Drinking Chocolate from Santa Barbara Chocolate sells for $48/3 pounds with shipping.  Something tells me that 15 Craigside won't be able to afford it.  On the other hand, those Nestle hot cocoa mix in packets also sell for the equivalent of $48 for 3 pounds.  I'm the Dining Committee Chairman, so I might bring this subject up.   My intent was to also report the latest on turmeric, exercise and sleep, but someday, perhaps.

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