Digging Into Our Mailbag

It's one of my favorite days of the week...

Longtime readers know that each Friday, we select a few questions from readers to answer. You might think, "Doc, there's no way you actually read feedback e-mails."

But here's the truth... I love getting e-mails from readers. Not only do our readers give us great ideas, but you also send us tons of great questions every week. And, of course, you point out when we get something wrong. (Yes, I even like getting critiques.) I regularly send some of my favorites – both good and bad – along to my team.

So today, we're taking some time to respond to a few questions from our loyal readers. And, as always, keep sending your comments, questions, and topic suggestions to [email protected]. My team and I really do read every e-mail.

Now, let's dig into some questions...

Q: Can I trade puts in a retirement account? – S.W.

A: S.W., you're likely asking about the option-selling strategy I recommend in my Retirement Trader service. In Retirement Trader, we collect upfront cash by selling other investors the right to buy our shares (calls) or sell us their shares (puts).

All of the trades I officially recommend in Retirement Trader are allowed in an IRA... both cash-secured puts and covered calls. With a cash-secured put, you maintain enough cash on hand that you can buy shares if your puts' buyer exercises their option. With a covered call, you buy the shares in advance so that you're ready if the call buyer decides to buy them from you. These strategies have nearly identical returns.

The only restriction is selling naked puts in an IRA. A naked put is sold on margin, in which you don't have all the cash on hand to buy shares. That's a popular way to juice your returns... But it's also riskier because you're less prepared if the trade doesn't go your way. That's why I only recommend selling on margin to experienced option sellers. But if you're trading in an IRA, you still must back up your puts' obligations with cash.

Another caveat: Not every broker will let you trade options in an IRA. We can't recommend specific brokers, but some that do allow options in an IRA include TD Ameritrade, Merrill Edge, and Ally Invest.

For folks who might have missed it, last week, I released a video where I showed pro golfer Kevin Kisner how to sell options. I walked him step by step through the process and explained why selling options isn't as difficult or risky as some think.

This video is going offline soon, so click here to watch it now.

Q: I know you should eat dark chocolate, that it's better than milk. But is it better the darker it is? – S.F.

A: Numerous studies agree – dark chocolate is good for your health. Milk chocolate can be loaded with more sugar and cholesterol. But dark chocolate contains more antioxidants and flavonoids, making it a healthier choice.

When you look at dark chocolate packaging, you'll notice it lists a cocoa percentage. Lots of cheap dark chocolate probably has about 45% cocoa (with a lot of added sugar). It is true that, generally, the higher percentage of cocoa, the more antioxidants you'll get from the chocolate. You want to look for chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa to get lots of benefits.

You should know that higher percentages make the chocolate more bitter. So an 85% dark chocolate will be much more bitter and less sweet than 70%.

Q: Doc, since you're not anti-salt, do you recommend a specific kind for health benefits? – M.H.

A: There's some belief that sea salt is healthier than table salt. Sea salt involves little processing. It comes directly from evaporated seawater. Depending on its origin, it may include different minerals. These can change the color and taste of the salt. Table salt comes from salt mines underground and gets heavily processed. So the taste is consistent but bland.

But differences in taste and appearance aside, sea salt doesn't offer any significant health benefits. The main difference is that table salt is almost always "iodized," meaning iodine is added to it. Iodine is essential for keeping your thyroid healthy. So if you're using mostly sea salt in your diet, make sure you get enough iodine from foods like seafood, cheese, and yogurt.

Because of the varied origins, the nutrients in different sea salts can vary. But some people claim certain types have more than 80 minerals and nutrient elements in small quantities and in similar proportions to the human body. The non-sodium salts and minerals may have some benefits, but the micro amounts mean the effects are less significant.

And remember, despite what many out-of-touch medical doctors may tell you, eating sodium at reasonable levels does not cause high blood pressure. And regardless, sea and table salt have roughly the same amount of sodium.

So do what I do... Don't worry about which one is "healthier." Enjoy them both.

What We're Reading...

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
August 11, 2023