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Chocolate SU B

Back in the 70s, when I first started getting interested in food and nutrition, chocolate was recommended as part of a vegetarian diet because of its high iron content.

But apart from that, there wasn’t much good you could say about it; it gave you spots, rotted your teeth, made you fat and/or hyperactive, and was a well-known trigger for migraines.

How times change. Recent studies have found that the flavanols in chocolate can boost memory and brain power. It improves cognitive function in the elderly, and can mitigate or even ward off the symptoms of dementia. If you’re sleep-deprived, it can help with mental alertness. The effects were most noticeable in older adults with mild memory loss or other symptoms of cognitive decline.

Of course, this is dark chocolate we’re talking about, with a high content of cocoa and relatively little sugar and fat. And it’s still true that some of the other constituents of cocoa, like caffeine and theobromine, can cause trouble. When you add in the vast amounts of sugar and other additives that go into the cheaper varieties of chocolate, any health benefits are certainly outweighed by the drawbacks.

But still, it’s nice to know that not all ‘sweets’ are bad for you.

EDITOR: Su has an excellent Herb Handbook available to buy directly from her website or from Amazon.

Meet The Author...
Su Bristow
Who Am I?
I studied at the School of Herbal Medicine for four years, and qualified in 1989, becoming a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists ( The road to herbal medicine led from my early interest in organic gardening and healthy eating, through the study of social and physical anthropology at Cambridge, where I specialised in medical anthropology. What fascinated me was how people deal with their health problems when they have only the natural resources around them, and their own ingenuity. I went on to learn massage and reflexology, and worked at a residential naturopathic clinic, where I learned about the use of diet and other natural ways of healing. After qualifying as a herbalist, I set up practice in mid-Devon. Since then I have continued to expand my expertise, with counselling skills, first aid, and knowledge of the Chinese and Ayurvedic systems of herbal medicine. Besides one-to-one consultation, I have also taught evening classes, students of the Westcountry Massage Association, and various private courses.
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