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7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health.

Made from the seed of the cocoa tree, it is one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet.

Studies show that dark chocolate (not the sugary crap) can improve health and lower the risk of heart disease.

1. Dark Chocolate is Very Nutritious

If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious.

It contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals.

A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains:

  • 11 grams of fiber.
  • 67% of the RDA for Iron.
  • 58% of the RDA for Magnesium.
  • 89% of the RDA for Copper.
  • 98% of the RDA for Manganese.

It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
Of course, 100 grams (3.5 ounces) is a fairly large amount and not something you should be consuming daily. All these nutrients also come with 600 calories and moderate amounts of sugar.

For this reason, dark chocolate is best consumed in moderation.

The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is excellent. The fats are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturates.

It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, but is unlikely to keep you awake at night as the amount of caffeine is very small compared to coffee.

Bottom Line: Quality dark chocolate is rich in Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese and a few other minerals.

2. Dark Chocolate is a Powerful Source of Antioxidants

Have you ever heard of a measure called ORAC?

ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. It is a measure of the antioxidant activity of foods.

Basically, researchers pit a bunch of free radicals (bad) against a sample of food and see how well the antioxidants in the food can “disarm” them.

The biological relevance of this metric is questioned, because it’s done in a test tube and may not have the same effect in the body.

However, I think it is worth mentioning that raw, unprocessed cocoa beans are among the highest scoring foods that have been tested.

Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others.

One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate contained more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than other fruits they tested, which included blueberries and Acai berries.

Bottom Line: Cocoa and dark chocolate have a wide variety of powerful antioxidants, way more than most other foods.

3. Dark Chocolate May Improve Blood Flow and Lower Blood Pressure

The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce Nitric Oxide (NO), which is a gas.

One of the functions of NO is to send signals to the arteries to relax, which lowers resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure.

There are many controlled trials showing that cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, but the effects are usually mild.

However, there is also one study in people with elevated blood pressure that showed no effect, so take all this with a grain of salt.

Bottom Line: The bioactive compounds in cocoa can improve blood flow in the arteries and cause a small but statistically significant decrease in blood pressure.

 

chocolate

4. Dark Chocolate Raises HDL and Protects LDL Against Oxidation

Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease.

In a controlled trial, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men.

It also increased HDL and lowered total LDL in men with elevated cholesterol.

Oxidized LDL means that the LDL (“bad” cholesterol) has reacted with free radicals.

This makes the LDL particle itself reactive and capable of damaging other tissues… such as the lining of the arteries in your heart.

It makes perfect sense that cocoa lowers oxidized LDL. It contains an abundance of powerful antioxidants that do make it into the bloodstream and protect lipoproteins against oxidative damage.

Dark chocolate can also reduce insulin resistance, which is another common risk factor for many diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

Bottom Line: Dark chocolate improves several important risk factors for disease. It lowers the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage while increasing HDL and improving insulin sensitivity.

5. Dark Chocolate May Lower The Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

The compounds in dark chocolate appear to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL.

In the long term, this should cause much less cholesterol to lodge in the arteries and we should see a lower risk of heart disease over the long term.

It turns out that we have several long-term observational studies that show a fairly drastic improvement.

In a study of 470 elderly men, cocoa was found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death by a whopping 50% over a 15 year period.

Another study revealed that eating chocolate 2 or more times per week lowered the risk of having calcified plaque in the arteries by 32%. Eating chocolate less frequently had no effect.

Yet another study showed that chocolate 5+ times per week lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 57%.

Of course, these 3 studies are so-called observational studies that can not prove that it was the chocolate that caused the reduction in risk.

However, given that we have a biological mechanism (lower blood pressure and oxidized LDL) then I find it plausible that regular consumption of dark chocolate can in fact reduce the risk of heart disease.

Bottom Line: Observational studies show a drastic reduction in heart disease risk for the people who consume the most chocolate.

6. Dark Chocolate May Protect Your Skin Against The Sun

The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may also be great for your skin.

The flavonols can protect against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration.

The minimal erythemal dose (MED) is the minimum amount of UVB rays required to cause redness in the skin, 24 hours after exposure.

In one study of 30 people, the MED more than doubled after consuming dark chocolate high in flavanols for 12 weeks.

If you’re planning on a beach vacation, consider loading up on dark chocolate in the prior weeks and months.

Bottom Line: Studies show that the flavanols from cocoa can improve blood flow to the skin and protect it against sun-induced damage.

7. Dark Chocolate May Improve Brain Function

The good news isn’t over yet. Dark chocolate may also improve the function of the brain.

One study of healthy volunteers showed that 5 days of consuming high-flavanol cocoa improved blood flow to the brain.

Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. It also improves verbal fluency and several risk factors for disease.

Cocoa also contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine, which may be a key reason cocoa can improve brain function in the short term .

Take Home Message

There is considerable evidence that cocoa can provide powerful health benefits, being especially protective against cardiovascular disease.

But of course, this doesn’t mean people should go all out and consume lots of chocolate every day. It is still loaded with calories and easy to overeat on. Maybe have a square or two after dinner and try to really savor them.

Be aware that a lot of the chocolate on the market is crap. You need to choose quality stuff… organic, dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content.

Dark chocolates often contain some sugar, but the amounts are usually small and the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain.

There are of course other benefits to chocolate that I have not mentioned… such as the awesome taste.

By Kris Gunnars, BSc
 
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Self-Guided Cognitive Behavioral Therapy May Help Depression

Online programs offering cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) without the therapist can reduce depression symptoms for some, according to a new review of existing research on the topic.

Automated CBT programs, or iCBT, which work to change a patient’s non-productive thoughts, attitudes and beliefs, are designed to make it easier for people to get therapy at low cost and with less fear of stigmatization.

But recent large trials have produced conflicting answers about whether such self-guided internet-based therapy is effective.

In the new analysis, researchers attempted to resolve the issue by examining data from 13 studies comparing iCBT to alternative treatments or to a placebo and involving a total of 3,832 patients.

Compared to the 1,603 depressed patients in control groups – who received other treatments, care from a general practitioner, attention placebo or were put on a waiting list – people who used the iCBT websites were significantly more likely to show improvement.

And when it was effective, online cognitive therapy was just as likely to work regardless of the patient’s degree of depression.

“People with severe depression at the beginning of the treatment had a similar response to treatment as people with mild or moderate depression,” chief author Eirini Karyotaki of the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research in Amsterdam told Reuters Health by email.

Not surprisingly, patients who adhered best to the iCBT treatment and completed the online sessions did better than those who did not.

depression

 

When the researchers looked at the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of the volunteers, they were unable to uncover any factors that increased the likelihood of a successful outcome, according to the report in JAMA Psychiatry.

Based on the success rates, Karyotaki and her team calculate that the intervention would need to be given to eight patients in order to achieve 50 percent symptom reduction in one patient.

“This can be clinically relevant if you consider that in low- and middle- income countries there is no infrastructure for mental health. When self-guided iCBT is disseminated worldwide, the overall impact can be high, because of the large numbers of people that can be reached with it,” Karyotaki said.

Five of the studies evaluated in the meta-analysis used the publicly-available iCBT program at deprexis.com.

Patients from Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom made up the patient pool. The programs they used required between five and 11 sessions. “Each online session lasts approximately one hour and most of the times patients are advised to follow one session per week,” Karyotaki said.

The researchers caution that they were unable to assess whether how long a person had been depressed influenced the effectiveness of the iCBT treatment. “Duration of symptoms is important because individuals with chronic depressive symptoms may not always respond rapidly to treatment,” they write.

And before the practice is widely adopted as routine care, limitations of the therapy, such as high dropout rates and the small effects compared to in-person or guided internet therapy need to be addressed, they write.

By Gene Emery        Wed Feb 22, 2017        Reuters Health
 
SOURCE: bit.ly/2l84tQN JAMA Psychiatry, online February 22, 2017.         www.reuters.com


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Are Prebiotics the Stress Reliever You Never Heard Of?

Before you spend another night tossing and turning from stress, a new study shows that the secret to peaceful Z’s starts with what you’re eating.

There are traditional methods for coping with stress, from relaxing in the tub to keeping a bullet journal, but according to the newest study, an effective way to bounce back from stress is to get your fill of foods rich in prebiotics.

While probiotics—those friendly gut bugs—are often lauded for their digestive benefits, prebiotics are less understood. WebMD defines prebiotics as “good carbohydrates that cannot be digested by the human body. They are food for probiotics, and their primary benefit along with probiotics is to help your body maintain a healthy digestive system.”

Researchers from the University of Colorado discovered that regular amounts of prebiotics in your diet can help promote a better balance of gut bacteria and help the body recover following a stressful event. Their study, which appeared in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, found that including prebiotics—from sources like asparagus, oatmeal, and legumes such as lentils and chickpeas—help our bodies resume normal sleeping patterns following a particularly stressful event.

“Acute stress can disrupt the gut microbiome,” Agnieszka Mika, MD, a lead author of the study told sciencedaily.com. “We wanted to test if a diet rich in prebiotics would increase beneficial bacteria as well as protect gut microbes from stress-induced disruptions. We also wanted to look at the effects of prebiotics on the recovery of normal sleep patterns, since they tend to be disrupted after stressful events.”

For the study, test rats were given a diet of prebiotics for several weeks prior to a stressful test condition. They were then compared against control rats that didn’t eat a prebiotic-rich diet. Researchers found that the rats that ate prebiotic foods prior to the stressful event didn’t demonstrate any stress-induced disruption in their gut and were able to resume healthier sleep patterns more quickly than the rats on the non-prebiotic diet.

Although the study was conducted on rats, the researchers say the results are applicable for humans. According to the study’s lead author, Robert Thompson, MD, “the stressor the rats received was the equivalent of a single intense acute stressful event for humans, such as a car accident or the death of a loved one.”

No adverse effects have been reported from the use of prebiotics, and with the non-digestible fiber found widely in many plants, breast milk and as commercial supplements, Dr. Mika encourages us to get our fill. These are the best foods you can eat to boost your good gut bacteria, because both probiotics and prebiotics are critical to a healthy microbiome, or gut bug community.

BY LAUREN REARICK
source: www.rd.com
Garlic

7 Foods to Boost Your Good Gut Bacteria (That Aren’t Yogurt)

One of the most astonishing recent health discoveries is how much our gut microbiome impacts our health. But when it comes to growing good gut bacteria you have plenty of delicious probiotic foods to choose from.

Cold potatoes

Cold potatoes—that is, taters that have been washed, cooked, and cooled—are one of the best sources of resistant starch. Resistant starch is a prebiotic, a type of indigestible carbohydrate that acts like food for gut bacteria, encouraging the good bugs to grow and flourish. While resistant starch has many health benefits, one of its most promising aspects is its ability to increase insulin sensitivity, helping people reduce diabetes risk and even lose weight.

Kefir

Think of kefir as yogurt’s tangier but more powerful cousin. The drink is made by seeding milk with kefir “grains,” which are tiny bundles of yeast and bacteria, and letting it sit. Over time the grains ferment the milk, producing a tart drink full of probiotics, or healthy bacteria. A 2013 study found that kefir can help relieve gastrointestinal problems and allergies and may even have a positive effect on heart health. One caveat however: Many commercial kefir drinks contain very high amounts of added sugar, which feeds bad bacteria in your gut, so make sure you read the label and ingredient list. These are sneaky signs you might be eating too much sugar.

Green bananas

Most people go out of their way to avoid green bananas but there’s good news for people who just can’t wait until they’re fully ripe. Green bananas are a rich source of prebiotics, particularly resistant starch. They also have a healthy dose of both soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The combo provides a feast for good gut bacteria and helps protect your heart and bones. Can’t get past the taste? Try them boiled or fried or sub some green banana flour in place of regular flour. Here’s how sniffing bananas could help you lose weight.

Kimchi

Don’t let the name throw you—this Korean dish is not only tasty but a health superstar. Kimchi is made by fermenting vegetables with probiotic lactic acid bacteria, which gives it the same boost of healthy bacteria as other fermented foods, like yogurt. Plus, since it’s made from cruciferous veggies like bok choy and cabbage along with healthy spices like garlic and peppers, it provides a mega dose of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. One study found that kimchi helps protect against cancer, obesity, and constipation while lowering cholesterol, boosting brain and immune function, and even providing some anti-aging benefits. Here are other proven cancer-fighting foods.

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is kimchi’s German cousin, a lacto-fermented brine filled with cabbage, carrots, and spices—not to mention plenty of healthy bacteria for your gut. And not only does it have similar benefits as other fermented veggies but a study done by William & Mary college found that eating a daily serving of sauerkraut helped significantly reduce social anxiety. The researchers believe it’s because more than 80 percent of the calming hormone, serotonin, is manufactured in our guts (not our brains!) and the good bacteria boosted serotonin production.

Chocolate

Yes, it’s true! Chocolate can help encourage the growth of healthy gut bacteria. A study published in the International Journal of Food Biology found that combining chocolate with probiotics magnified the benefits of both. The chocolate protected the bacteria as it passed through the stomach, making sure it was absorbed in the small intestine while the bacteria helped the body properly digest the chocolate, enabling it to extract all the micronutrients and antioxidants. Talk about a win/win! Here are more healthy reasons to eat chocolate.

Garlic

Everyone’s favorite way to get bad breath also has powerful gut bacteria-boosting properties. Garlic is not only Americans’ number-one favorite spice (after salt) but is also beloved by bacteria thanks to its rich supply of prebiotics, their preferred food. Raw garlic is the best source but for those who don’t like the burn (or who feel like kissing someone later); cooked garlic also works well—so well in fact that a study published in Food Science and Human Wellness found that eating it is an effective way to prevent many gastrointestinal illnesses. Here are more surprising benefits of garlic. Feeling motivated? Try these seven other foods that also boost gut health.

BY CHARLOTTE HILTON ANDERSEN
source: www.rd.com


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Reading On A Screen Before Bed Might Be Killing You

You’ve heard that using screens before bedtime can mess with your sleep, but new research suggests the problem is even more serious.

Reading from an iPad before bed not only makes it harder to fall asleep, but also impacts how sleepy and alert you are the next day, according to new research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, said the findings could impact anyone who uses an eReader, laptop, smartphone, or certain TVs before bed.

The new research supports conclusions from older studies, which have also found that screen time before sleep can be detrimental.

“We know from previous work that light from screens in the evening alters sleepiness and alertness, and suppresses melatonin levels,” Dr. Anne-Marie Chang, an associate neuroscientist in BWH’s Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders who was a co-author on the study, told The Huffington Post via email. “This study shows comprehensive results of a direct comparison between reading with a light-emitting device and reading a printed book and the consequences on sleep.”

If you don’t want to feel like a zombie during the day, the findings are clear: Read an actual, printed book if you must stimulate your mind before bed, and avoid screens like your life depends on it, because it actually might. Chang said that sleep deficiency – not getting enough sleep or obtaining poor quality sleep – has been linked to other health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Chronic suppression of melatonin has also been associated with increased risk of certain cancers, she said.

Needless to say, sleep has its own innate benefits, so cutting it short is a bad idea anyway.

phone-bed

The study ran for two weeks and included 12 participants who read on an iPad for four hours before bed for five days straight, a process that was repeated with printed books. For some, the order was reversed: They started with printed books and moved to iPads.

iPad readers took longer to fall asleep, felt less sleepy at night and had shorter REM sleep compared to the book readers, researchers found. The iPad readers also secreted less melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep. They were also more tired than book readers the following day, even if both got a full eight hours of sleep.

The real-world effects may be even worse than what researchers observed over the course of their study, however. Chang told HuffPost that because iPad users were found to be more alert, people who look at screens before bed may stay up later than the study participants were allowed to, wrecking their sleep even more.

If you absolutely, positively must be on your tablet, phone, or computer before bed for whatever reason, there may be a way to make it safer. Try a filter that blocks blue light – there’s an app for Android that produces this effect, though you’ll have to purchase a physical filter for your iOS device. Try F.lux if you’re using a computer. Research has shown that blue light makes you more alert and suppresses your melatonin, thus hurting your quality of sleep.

“The best recommendation (although not the most popular) would be to avoid use of light-emitting screens before bedtime,” Dr. Chang told HuffPost. “For those who must use computers or other light-emitting devices in the evening, software or other technology that filters out the blue light may help.”

 

By Damon Beres       12/23/2014
 


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Our brains do not recognize people by their entire face, but from their eyes and other key features on the person’s face.
  • Chocolate is good for your teeth. It can help fight against bacteria in the mouth and stop dental decay.
  • People who laugh more are able to tolerate pain better, both physical and emotional.
  • A study has confirmed that British people have the world’s sexiest accents.

 

dark chocolate
Chocolate is good for your teeth.
It can help fight against bacteria in the mouth
and stop dental decay.
  • Men have nipples because everyone is a female until the Y chromosome kicks in. You were all girl embryos.
  • People who regularly help others are significantly happier and less likely to become depressed as they get older.
  • The right ear is better at hearing speech and the left ear is better at hearing music.

 

Happy Friday  🙂
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


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Is Hummus Good For You?

6 Health Issues The Superfood Dip Can Treat

The creamy and decadent taste of this Middle Eastern dip has become a healthy kitchen staple in the homes of millions of Americans. Hummus’s ingredients, including mashed chickpea, tahini, oil, lemon juice, and garlic, load the thick paste with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. The superfood is not only heart-healthy, it delivers a myriad of benefits for the mind, body, and soul.

In the U.S., hummus can be found in about 20 percent of the nation’s households, said Todd Scholz, of the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, with sales increased to $250 million in 2013. The rise in hummus is due to the varieties made available like lemon, roasted garlic, and roasted red pepper, and because of its multi-purpose use. The thick paste is used for sandwiches, smoothing over chicken or fish, and even baked potatoes. Its recurring role in American cuisine has made it become the equivalent of peanut butter.

Hummus’s primary ingredient, chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are what drive this dip into the kitchen of American homes. “These are protein-, fiber-rich legumes that have been linked to health benefits,” Sharon Palmer, a registered dietitian nutritionist in California, and author of Plant-Powered for Life, told Medical Daily in an email. “A high-fiber diet can help lower blood cholesterol levels, among other benefits, such as lowering heart disease risk, type 2 diabetes risk, and aiding in weight loss.”

See below for ways adding hummus to your diet can alleviate some of the most common health conditions that affect the human body.

1. ALLEVIATES ANEMIA

Hummus primarily consists of chickpeas, which is a good vegetable-based source of iron. It also means one cup provides more than 25 percent of the recommended daily value. Shara Vickers, a nutritional health and fitness specialist in Nova Scotia, Canada, told Medical Daily in an email: “In addition, chickpeas contain a bit of vitamin C, which aids in the absorption of plant-based iron. This is how consuming chickpeas could benefit someone with anemia.”

The body does tend to absorb iron from meat better than iron from nonmeat foods, but they can still help you raise your iron levels. The iron content in chickpeas, including tahini, help deliver oxygen to red blood cells. Aside from chickpeas; peas, lentils, white, red, and baked beans, and soybeans are excellent sources of iron.

2. REDUCES BLOOD CLOTS

The consumption of hummus can lead to a reduction in blood clots. Lentils, which includes chickpeas, are vitamin E- and K-rich foods that have blood thinning properties and naturally help reduce the risk of blood clots. Vitamin K can prevent certain bleeding or blood clotting problems and also reverse the effects of too much warfarin — a blood thinning drug — to prevent blood clotting. A 2012 study published in the journal Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica found two different varieties of chickpeas are both effective at reducing inflammation markers.

hummus
The Middle Eastern superfood dip can alleviate
a variety of health issues, from anemia to cholesterol.

3. REDUCES BLOOD SUGAR

Hummus is a complex carbohydrate that provides time released energy that won’t lead to a spike in blood sugar levels. It is full of protein that fills you up, Digesting and utilizing the glucose found in all beans and starches takes a while, which keeps blood sugar levels stable before they begin to drop again.

A 2012 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found diabetics who ate at least a cup of legumes for three months as part of their low glycemic index diet improved their glucose tolerance. This was linked to a reduction in the risk for coronary heart disease. Consumption of legumes, like chickpeas, are recommended for diabetics.

4. REDUCES CANCER RISK

Hummus contains 36 percent of the suggested intake of folate in one cup. Foods rich in folate are associated with a lower risk of certain types of cancer like colorectal cancers, and they also lower the risk of heart disease. A 2007 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found folate could play a dual role in cancer development. It may provide protection early in carcinogenesis and individuals with a low folate status. However, it could also promote carcinogenesis if it’s administered later and potentially at high intakes. Folate in moderation may be beneficial, but not at exceedingly high levels.

5. LOWERS CHOLESTEROL

The daily consumption of hummus can help lower bad cholesterol. Chickpeas contain isoflavones, which are antioxidants known to lower cholesterol. A 2008 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found people aged between 30 and 70, who were not in the best health, benefited from eating chickpeas every day for three years. This group consumed less fat and had a small reduction in cholesterol compared to the group who ate wheat products like bread and cereal for their daily fiber intake.

Dr. Barry Sears, a leading authority on dietary control of hormonal response in Marblehead, Mass., and author of The Zone told Medical Daily in an email: “Theoretically hummus alone has a reasonable protein-to-carbohydrate ratio that would help stabilize insulin levels.  It is elevated insulin that causes the liver to produce cholesterol.” However, he cautions that once you put hummus on a piece of bread, “all bets are off, since the carbohydrates in the bread will significantly stimulate insulin production because of the high-glycemic response of bread.”

6. FACILITATES WEIGHT MANAGEMENT

Hummus in moderation may be the superfood for a weight loss diet. Chickpeas are an excellent source of fiber, which not only helps build a healthy digestive system, but also makes you feel full and satisfied. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences found people who snack on hummus have a 53 percent lesser chance of being obese and are 51 percent less likely to have high blood sugar than those who don’t eat hummus. Moreover, their waist size was found to be more than 2 inches smaller on average.

Hummus contains 4 grams of protein per 100 grams, but if it’s added to a hard boiled egg white minus the yolk, the protein content is doubled. This has an impact on appetite suppression that leads to weight loss. “If fortified with additional protein, such as hardboiled egg whites, it will help reduce hunger and maintain muscle mass during weight loss,” Sears said.

Having hummus as part of your daily diet will help treat these conditions and keep you at optimal health.

By Lizette Borreli                @lizcelineb                Mar 24, 2015

 


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8 Things Mentally Healthy People Do Differently

“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Mental health is importance at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.” – U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Most times when we hear something, anything, being discussed about mental health, the context is usually negative. For example, we’ll often watch news anchors explain that some violent act was committed by someone known to have “mental health issues.” Less frequently discussed are the positive aspects of mental health – something that we’d like to focus on today. We believe this to be important, as research shows a steady increase in the proliferation of mental health problems.

More specifically, we discuss how mentally healthy people think.

The rationale for this article is to provide a common set of psychological traits in “mentally healthy” people; traits which can then be used as a sort-of “benchmark” for gaining potential insight into our own mental health.

First, three important side notes: (1) nobody is perfectly healthy, neither physically or mentally, (2) this piece is written for entertainment purposes, and (3) should you believe that you suffer from a psychological disorder, it is recommended to seek out help or talk to someone.

HERE ARE EIGHT THINGS MENTALLY HEALTHY PEOPLE DO DIFFERENTLY:

1. THEY HAVE A POSITIVE SOCIAL CIRCLE

Steven Joyal, M.D., and vice president of scientific affairs and medical development at a non-profit mental health research institute, states: “The idea that social interaction is important to mental and physical health has been hinted at and studied for years.”

Per a meta-study conducted at Brigham Young University, which analyzed 148 studies of over 300,000 subjects, a positive social circle has a direct effect on mortality. Researchers concluded that this positive correlation is a direct reflection on the intangible benefits of an active social circle – namely, a circle that counteracts stress through comfort and companionship.

2. THEY ARE PROACTIVE, RATHER THAN REACTIVE

The inclination to consistently improve oneself, as opposed to simply reacting to environmental stimuli, is directly connected to mental health. Having a proactive mindset displays self-awareness and a willingness to work towards a long-term goal.

In short, a proactive mindset manifests into a positive mind state, while a reactive mindset demonstrates a lack of self-control – a trait that often evolves into problems with mental health.

3. THEY CARE FOR THEIR BODY

Understanding that one’s body is directly connected to one’s mind is a vital piece of knowledge. A physically active lifestyle is an ubiquitous tendency among those with a healthy state of mind.

Combining a physically active lifestyle with healthy dietary habits is a clear indication that one is mentally healthy. Those that lack either are more prone to mental health issues.

woman universe

4. THEY POSSESS GOOD EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Emotional intelligence is simply the ability to understand emotions and their subsequent impacts on mind and body. Capably interpreting what’s going on inside your mind and body subsequently enables you to do something about them.

5. THEY ARE SELF-GUIDED AND PRODUCTIVE

Being able to guide yourself in a positive way is a surefire sign of mental health. People with mental health problems are often a “victim” of their circumstances. In contrast, mentally healthy people are able to understand their situation and make something positive happen.

If you’re setting goals and making them part of your daily life, you are likely both disciplined and mentally-healthy. Giving way to instant gratification and/or always feeling lethargic may indicate a problem.

6. THEY’RE IN CONTROL OF THEIR BEHAVIOR

The rare ability to resist most temptations and negative impulses is a sign of mental health. Why? Because to do so requires self-knowledge, resilience, and willpower; three attributes commonly absent within those with a mental health problem.

Furthermore, you’re able to consistently adhere to a positive routine. This is important, as a positive routine is often an indication of a positive state of mind.

7. THEY ACCEPT THEMSELVES FOR WHO THEY ARE

Sadly, many people with a negative self-image often succumb to conditions such as anxiety and depression. Having a positive (not necessarily a “high”) sense of self-worth often indicates a healthy state of mind.

It’s important to understand that we all have things we wish to improve upon. The difference lies in the reaction to such desires. Mentally healthy people will devise a plan, whilst those not so healthy will remain in a static state of mind.

Which leads us to the final item on this list…

8. THEY HAVE EXCELLENT SELF-REALIZATION SKILLS

The current “situation,” whether good or bad, great or terrible, is more astutely interpreted in those with a healthy state of mind. It’s not altogether more uncommon for a mentally healthy person to find themselves in a bad scenario; they just recognize it sooner and take the appropriate, more productive actions.

Those in a negative state of mind – be it “mentally ill” or whatever – are less likely to realize the adverse situation and do something about it.

SOURCES:
CASSERLY, M. (2010, AUGUST 24). FRIENDS WITH HEALTH BENEFITS. RETRIEVED FEBRUARY 06, 2017, FROM HTTP://WWW.FORBES.COM/2010/08/24/HEALTH-RELATIONSHIPS-LONGEVITY-FORBES-WOMAN-WELL-BEING-SOCIAL-ISOLATION.HTML
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES. WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH?. (N.D.). RETRIEVED FEBRUARY 06, 2017, FROM HTTPS://WWW.MENTALHEALTH.GOV/BASICS/WHAT-IS-MENTAL-HEALTH/