Reducing Poverty high on the agenda

Like it or not, poverty reduction has been taken high on the development agenda by giving a Nobel prize to those who studied/researched how poverty could be reduced.

I have been focusing on getting my book out published in India. Writing seems to be so much easier than getting it published and marketed. I know of others going through this stage of publishing.

In the meantime I have been travelling. I am posting this from Odisha, more specifically Koraput district.

Poverty is so easily visible. The difference between the southern part of India more specifically Kerala and Tamilnadu, is visibly palpable.

Yesterday, as a team we went for a field visit to village. That village has 100% latrine constructed. But hundred percent are using the fields for open defecation.

The number one reason for this is the complaint that they do not have water in the toilets. However that village has a perennial source of water from a spring in the hill nearby. Water is freely flowing through open pipes in the village.

The other reason appears to be that these were constructed as part of a project. Probably a contract was given. The contractor needed his profits. It is not known how much money passed through different levels of hands.

We started trying to get the people started on regulating the flow of water first and then motivate and educate the people to use the latrines built.

There are structural issues as well. These are leach pit latrines, that need two leach pits. Only one has been provided. When it fills up they will have no place to go than except the fields.

Absence of concomitant behaviour change communication along with latrine construction is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

Since poverty is high on the agenda, I am giving the link to my book below. This book would help you to understand the way forward with poverty reduction.

The paperback version is available in the following link.

Hope to keep in touch

Rajaratnam Abel


One more day for the Free e book

As a special Independence day promotion, I am happy to make the ebbok ‘Businessmen for the Poor’ available for a free download on August 15, 2019.

When I made the book avavilable for free download last time, some complained that they could not download.

Just to be doubly sure, please download first the free Kindle reader of Amazon. Then try downloading the book.

Should you still face problems, do Google search for the book Businessmen for the Poor along with author Rajaratnam Abel. You will be directed to the book page, where the ebook will be available for free download.

Those from India, just remember that the date is based on US timimngs. Therefore 15th August begins at 12 noon in India.

The link to the ebook is as given

So, just one more day left for the free download.

I would be delighted with many downloading the free e book. Amazon and Google also give credit for large number of free downloads.

Why are you hesitating to download a free e book?

I trust that none of you have any problem this time around.

Enjoy reading and please share the information.


Rajaratnam Abel

Are dark chocolates good for the heart?

I started this set of blogs by asking the above question, “Are chocolates good for the heart?” In this blog I conclude by answering this question. You may be surprised to learn that chocolate isn’t as bad for you as was once believed.

Most chocolate falls into one of three categories: white chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate. Chocolate’s darkness is determined by the proportion of cocoa solids made from cocoa beans that is mixed with cocoa butter and sugar.

Cocoa beans are taken through a number of processes starting with fermentation, drying, roasting, cracking and alkalization. The end result is a paste called cocoa liquor. It contains both nonfat cocoa solids and cocoa butter. After drying again, it is ground into cocoa powder.

The chemical composition of cocoa solids gives an indication on their usefulness. Some of these include, phenylethylamine, theobromine, and many polyphenols, like flavonoids. 

They also contain many vitamins and minerals as well as healthy doses of potassium and copper, which support cardiovascular health, and iron, which transports oxygen through the body.

Many flavonoids are shown to have antioxidative activity, free-radical scavenging capacity, coronary heart disease prevention, and anticancer activity. Most dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, particularly a subtype called flavanols that is associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

When we eat foods rich in flavonoids from any source, it appears that we also benefit from this “antioxidant” power. It is believed that the strong antioxidant properties of these flavonoids may help protect the cardiovascular system and is linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease.

It is this relationship that is attributed to dark chocolate being beneficial to the heart both from nutritional and pharmacological viewpoints.

They also appear to have neuroprotective, and chemo preventive potential. Other medical benefits include, lowering of blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot.

There has been no absolute direct scientific study to prove this protective factor. There is difficulty in designing studies that could accurately measure the daily intake of flavonoids because of the complexity of existence of flavonoids from various food sources, the diversity of dietary culture, and the occurrence of a large number of flavonoids itself in nature.

Cocoa naturally has a very strong, pungent taste, which comes from the flavanols.

When cocoa is processed into your favorite chocolate products, it goes through several steps to reduce this taste. This level of processing causes more flavanols to be lost.

A standard bar of dark chocolate with 70 percent to 85 percent cacao contains about 600 calories and 24 grams of sugar, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nutrient database. Milk chocolate contains roughly the same number of calories but twice the sugar.

Hot chocolate or a chocolate bar with more than 75% dark cocoa solids will have a high flavonoid content. White chocolate, however, contains only cocoa butter – no cocoa solids resulting in lost flavonoids– combined with sugar and other ingredients.

Be careful about the type of dark chocolate you choose: chewy caramel-marshmallow-nut-covered dark chocolate is by no means a heart-healthy food option. Watch out for those extra ingredients that can add lots of extra fat and calories.

Of the three types of chocolates, dark chocolates are the best as they are rich in flavonoids. Although the best of the three types, it is best to eat it in moderation.

Enjoying moderate portions of dark chocolate (e.g., 1 ounce) a few times per week along with other flavonoid-rich foods like apples, tea, onions and cranberries is good for the heart.

My gift to you

Yes, I have to complete my blog on cocoa and chocolates. There is an urgent need to complete this task. So bear with me.

For the past few months, I have been promoting my book, Businessmen for the Poor. Ordering a book from many countries is difficult and costly.

Therefore, I thought I’ll use the privilege Amazon offers to download my ebook for free.

It is available for free download on the 21st and 22nd of July 2019. Don’t let this opprtunity slip by.

My target is at least 100 free downloads. More the merrier. Amazon would be happy to know that such an interest and support existed for this book.

My goal is to share this book with major policy makers and practitioners. Many of you who are my contacts in the social media do not belong to this category.

But you can help in sharing this information with the those who need it. For your kindness, I would like to give a free gift of the ebook.

Don’t hesitate to download. Purchased or free download, I would like as many as possible to own a copy of this book either in print version or digital.

If you’ve already downloaded free earlier, pass this info on to someone who would like it.

So here’s the link for the ebook (Global)

So here’s the link for the ebook (India)

So, happily download this ebook for free. One does not know how long Amazon will give this privilege.

Thanks. Abel


Before We get into the issue of chocolates and their health issues, I thought at least some of you may be interested in knowing where cocoa comes from. As a child of about 8 years, I visited a relative near Kandy in Srilanka where they had a cocoa farm. It was more of a slope hill than the flat land you see in the picture.

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A cocoa garden with many trees showing how tall they normally grow and how cocoa fruit itself grows

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Harvested cocoa fruits
Cocoa fruits with cut open fruits showing the pods
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Dry cocoa beans ready for the next stage 0f making chocolates
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Freshly prepared chocolates

Those of you who have never seen where chocolates originate from, these pictures might give you a glimpse of the cocoa plant with the fruit, the pods and the dried beans.

In the next post we will look into the actual place of chocolates in diet and health.

Do share and invite your friends to participate in these posts. We will share and learn together many aspects of life.

Hope to come soon with my next post.

Rajaratnam Abel

Good bye to Vietnam

We bid good bye to Vietnam three weeks ago. We enjoyed our stay of two months. The weather was fine. We also enjoyed the seasonal fruits of Vietnam.

We came back to water starved, hot Chennai. Catching up with pending work kept us busy. We are back to our routines.

The one thought that came to me was that there is so much both Vietnam and India can do together. I look forward to such growth in the future.

I look forward to interacting more through this blog. It would be a participatory process sharing mutually and learning together.

I just wanted to get back to blogging. I would like to see more of my contacts joining this blog and learning together.

I look forward to sharing more specifically in my next blog.

Rajaratnam Abel

Violet yam of Vietnam

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In my last post I shared about the fruit sour sop, how I had the privilege of enjoying the fruit of my childhood days here in Vietnam.

My stay in Vietnam is coming to an end as I will be returning to India shortly.

During my stay here some of the other fruits I enjoyed are rambutan and mangoosteen.

As with many tropical foods, these may, reduce hypertension, improve diabetes, have anti cancer properties, reduce weight, and may slow ageing. This is based on animal studies. This is rich in Vitamin A.

This could be baked, or fried as a vegetable. It could be cut into small pieces and boiled and then mashed. Some eat it adding salt and seasoning, while others others add coconut paste or milk and sugar or honey. I enjoy the sweet variety.

Those who live in other tropical countries should taste this yam. It is yummy and healthy.

A very useful fruit

I did not mean to write on this topic. I wanted to continue on the healthy foods that I had started. Something interesting happened and so I am pitching thi blog in.

Some of you may know that I am in Vietnam enjoying a good holiday with my daughter’s family.

Some of you may also know that I have a linkage in the past with Srilanka. The home where we lived when I was a child was in a big campus. It had some fruit trees growing wildly. We enjoyed eating that fruit.

That fruit is freely available in the markets of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). So I could not resist the temptation to eat the fruit of my childhood days. The fruit is shown below.

This fruit is called as soursop in English.

This fruit is available in Gudalur of Tamilnadu, India, during this season.

One of the stated benefits of this fruit is that it prevents cancer. I have no hesitation in consuming any natural food that is supposed to prevent cancer without any attempt at trying to prove.

Once we complete the foods good for the heart, we will look at some of the foods stated to prevent cancer.

All the very best.

Now they say even Ghee is good. Really?

Gradually more viewers are visiting the site. I want to take the question I raised earlier one step further.

For a long time we were teaching community to avoid coconut oil and ghee as they both contribute more to heart diseases. 

It appears that the cycle has gone one complete round. Now nutritionists are saying that both coconut oil and ghee are good.

I can understand about coconut oil. I’ve lived in Srilanka, where coconut oil is freely used in cooking. Heart disease was not a problem.

But ghee? Can anyone who has knowledge in this area, share as to why ghee is acceptable today?   

With one or two more questions we will end this topic looking at what is best for the heart today.

As a public health physician, my aim is to share the best information in different areas of health and nutrition.

Right now I am in Vietnam with my daughter and her family. I am quite happy with the number of visitors from Vietnam to my web page.

I have a special blog for my readers from Vietnam.

Rajaratnam Abel