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

Are dark chocolates really good?

There are number of questions that arise as the list of foods that are good for the heart grows. Today I want to raise the question of chocolates. Chocolates have always been considered bad for the heart.

Now the message that is being promoted is that dark chocolates are good compared to white and other mild coloured chocolates.

Is it really true?

Is it a trade promotion?

Feedback by those who know the facts behind this would help clarify the true position.

Rajaratnam Abel

Which foods are good for the heart?

Recently I went through a medical procedure. As I was leaving the ward, I was given a diet sheet. Top on the list of foods that were foods that were to be completely avoided which included some of my favourite oil fried Indian snacks. Mentally I was prepared to give up these.

As I went down the list and looked at the items that I could eat, I was pleased, because there were many items which I liked but had not consumed them in sufficient quantities. As I started recuperating, I was pleased with the new diet pattern that emerged.

That made me think through the question of what food is indeed good for the heart and what foods are not good. I thought it would be fun as well as a learning experience as we share from individual experiences on listing what foods are good for the heart. So here are the questions that you can answer. Hopefully we will have a good list that could be shared.

Which are the foods that are good for the heart?

Which are the foods that are bad for the heart?

How can the foods be prepared in a tasty manner without hurting the heart?

Once we start, more questions may emerge. Please do feel free to add your questions and thoughts into the ongoing discussions. Thanks.

Rajaratnam Abel

Welcome to my website

Hello! It is my pleasure to invite you my blog and website.

my website is simple

This website has been created to share experiences over a lifetime in reducing poverty and providing health for the populations living in rural India.

You will be able to benefit in a variety of ways.

There would be lively discussions on topics of current interest, where individuals can share their opinions and experiences.

Specific experiences would be shared from time to time.

As an author, I will share the various publication that come out, both that are free as well as for payment

i look forward to your visit to my blog and website and star following as well as sharing with others.

Rajaratnam Abel

Businessmen for the Poor

Have you been involved in poverty alleviation? Have you heard tall promises by politicians on eliminating poverty and then hear nothing about it? Here is a book that describes the work of of two doctors sharing their experiences of a lifetime in promoting strategies that actually reduced poverty. Take a peep into this book and then contribute to reducing poverty wherever you live.

The book ‘Businessmen for the Poor’ jointly authored by Dr Daleep Mukarji and Dr Rajaratnam Abel is now available through This book describes the work carried out by both of them in poverty reduction and reducing catastrophic health expenditure among the poor. The various approaches adopted are described along with relevant successful experiences. It ends up in consolidating the various factors contributing to the reduction of poverty.

Being a book distributed globally online, the cost may be out of reach for many in India. The authors are working on an Indian edition at an affordable cost. In the meantime, the ebook may be ordered if you are comfortable.

“For the poor in our village, the weekly market is more important than the weekly clinic that you conduct in our village” And when we responded in an understanding manner to this passionate statement by my patient and changed the clinic day, they came in large numbers.

This book is written forty years after Daleep Mukarji founded the Rural Unit for Health and Social Affairs popularly known as RUHSA and along with Rajaratnam Abel, developed into the Department of CMC of Christian Medical College, Vellore, India.

Their work involved providing primary and secondary health care to a rural population of over 100,000 people. Equally important was the provision of a wide variety of services for poverty alleviation. This included cattle cross breeding, goat farming, broiler poultry, vocational training of youth, water conserving agricultural development and Self Help Groups among women.

The aim of RUHSA was alleviation of poverty. No one realised that unwittingly a large number of small businessmen and businesswomen were created in the community and thereby reduced poverty. Equally surprising was the observation that both Daleep and Abel had become leaders of a team of Businessmen for the Poor.

One concluding chapter describes briefly each of the factors contributed to the success. Applying these in different situations in India and other situations of poverty in different could help in overcoming poverty.

This is their story of how they reduced poverty. Imagine what would happen to India if every District Collector were to be impressed with the story of Businessmen for the Poor! and practically implemented the concept!.

The links to the book are given below.

The paperback version is available in the following


The e-version is available on the following


The ebook in India is available in the following link.

Please share this information with those whom you feel might benefit. I am sure you will want to order a copy for yourself.

Rajaratnam Abel

Free e-book Businessmen for the poor- from 28 March to April 1

This is the first day of free download

The e-book ‘Businessmen for the Poor’ jointly authored by Dr Daleep Mukarji and Dr Rajaratnam Abel is now available through for free from Mar 28 till Apr 1.

Being a book distributed globally online, the cost of the print version may be out of reach for many in India. I had been mentioning that I am working on an Indian edition at affordable cost. In the meantime, I am offering the e book for free for five days from Mar 28 till April 1. While it is a special effort to help readers from India, others from different parts of the world may also freely download.

The links to the book are given below.

The e-version is available on the following link for free download.

It just might be that some may find reading even a free e-book difficult and therefore would like only a print version.

The paperback print version is available in the following link.

The free e-book is available from Mar 28 to April 1 2019. Please use the above link and download for free. Please share with friends and others.

Rajaratnam Abel

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