Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Eating chocolate makes you happy because it contains phenylephylamine – the same hormone the brain triggers when you fall in love.

  • Not having enough sleep per day leads to a desire for sex, depression and alcoholism.

  • Stomach rumblings are caused by air moving through your digestive tract and doesn’t always mean you are hungry.

  • Soda is so corrosive that without a liner, the liquid would eat through the aluminum can after three days.

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

  • Coffee improves short term memory, creativity and alertness.

  • Bees are directly responsible for the production of 70% of fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts that we consume on a daily basis.

  • Faking a smile will actually boost your mood.

 

  • Chocolate, sex and laughter are all key to a healthy brain.

  • North American school buses are yellow because humans see yellow faster than any other color, which is important for avoiding accidents.

  • Eating strawberries can improve vision and also help to reduce cancer risk.

 

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


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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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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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Chocolate: Health Benefits, Precautions

Happy National Chocolate day!

Next time you eat a piece of chocolate, you may not have to feel overly guilty about it.

Despite its bad reputation for causing weight gain, there are a number of health benefits associated with this delicious treat.

Chocolate is made from tropical Theobroma cacao tree seeds. The earliest use of chocolate dates back to the Olmec civilization in Mesoamerica.

After the discovery of the Americas, chocolate became very popular in Europe, and its demand exploded.

Chocolate has since become an incredibly popular food product that millions indulge in everyday for its unique, rich, and sweet taste.

But what effects does eating chocolate have on our health?

This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles about the health benefits of popular foods. It provides details on the possible health benefits of chocolate as well as some risks and precautions that you may want to be aware of. Included throughout are links to relevant studies and articles.

The potential health benefits of chocolate

Throughout the years, chocolate has been on the end of a lot of bad press because of its fat content, and its consumption has been associated with acne, obesity, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and diabetes.

However, “the recent discovery of biologically active phenolic compounds in cocoa has changed this perception and stimulated research on its effects in ageing, oxidative stress, blood pressure regulation, and atherosclerosis. Today, chocolate is lauded for its tremendous antioxidant potential.”

The potential benefits of eating chocolate may include:

  • lowering cholesterol levels
  • preventing cognitive decline
  • reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems.

It is important to note that the possible health benefits mentioned discuss one-off studies and more evidence is required before the links can be said to be conclusive.

Chocolate may lower cholesterol levels

Chocolate consumption may help reduce LDL cholesterol levels.

A study published in The Journal of Nutrition was carried out to determine whether chocolate bars containing plant sterols (PS) and cocoa flavanols (CF) have any effect on cholesterol levels.3

The study authors wrote “results indicate that regular consumption of chocolate bars containing PS and CF as part of a low-fat diet may support cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and improving blood pressure.”

dark chocolate

 

Chocolate may help prevent memory decline

Scientists at Harvard Medical School suggest that drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day may help keep the brain healthy and prevent memory decline in older people. The researchers said that hot chocolate can help preserve blood flow in working areas of the brain.4

The lead author, Farzaneh A. Sorond, said:

“As different areas of the brain need more energy to complete their tasks, they also need greater blood flow. This relationship, called neurovascular coupling, may play an important role in diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

Chocolate may help reduce heart disease risk

Research published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) has suggested that consuming chocolate could help lower the risk of developing heart disease by one third. The report was presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Paris, France.5

The authors concluded:

“Based on observational evidence, levels of chocolate consumption seem to be associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of cardiometabolic disorders. Further experimental studies are required to confirm a potentially beneficial effect of chocolate consumption.”

Chocolate and stroke

Canadian scientists carried out a study involving 44,489 people and found that people eating chocolate were 22 per cent less likely to suffer a stroke than those who didn’t. In addition, those who had a stroke but regularly consumed chocolate were 46 percent less likely to die as a result.6

Risks and precautions for chocolate

Chocolate has a high calorie count, containing large amounts of sugar. Therefore, if you are trying to slim down or maintain your weight, it may be a good idea to set a limit on your chocolate consumption. The large amount of sugar in most chocolates can also be a cause of tooth decay.

In addition, there is research suggesting that chocolate may cause poor bone structure and osteoporosis.

One study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was carried out to identify the relationship between chocolate consumption and bone density in older women.8

The authors concluded that “older women who consume chocolate daily had lower bone density and strength”.

Further reading
If you enjoyed reading about the potential health benefits of chocolate, take a look at our collection of articles about other foods.

Tuesday 29 September 2015      Joseph Nordqvist    Medical News Today


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This Tasty Confection Helps Beat The Afternoon Mental Slump

The tasty food that boosts attention and potentially lowers blood pressure.

Dark chocolate can improve attention and a new formula may also lower blood pressure, a study shows.

Professor Larry Stevens, who conducted the study, said:

“Chocolate is indeed a stimulant and it activates the brain in a really special way.
It can increase brain characteristics of attention, and it also significantly affects blood pressure levels.”

The study measured the effects of eating 60% cacao chocolate (commonly called dark chocolate) on the brain waves of 122 participants.

They found that chocolate boosted attention and people were more alert for a period — although their blood pressure increased.

chocolate

Professor Stevens said:

“A lot of us in the afternoon get a little fuzzy and can’t pay attention, particularly students, so we could have a higher cacao content chocolate bar and it would increase attention”

The researchers also tried chocolate containing a substance called L-theanine.

L-theanine is a relaxant that is found in green tea.

Professor Stevens explained:

“L-theanine is a really fascinating product that lowers blood pressure and produces what we call alpha waves in the brain that are very calm and peaceful.
We thought that if chocolate acutely elevates blood pressure, and L-theanine lowers blood pressure, then maybe the L-theanine would counteract the short-term hypertensive effects of chocolate.”

The study found that participants who consumed this got the boost from the chocolate but the L-theanine reduced their blood pressure.

Although chocolate with L-theanine is not commercially available, Professor Stevens thinks there is potential:

“It’s remarkable.
The potential here is for a heart healthy chocolate confection that contains a high level of cacao with L-theanine that is good for your heart, lowers blood pressure and helps you pay attention.”

The study was published in the journal NeuroRegulation (Montopoli et al., 2015).

source: PsyBlog


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License to Sin: How to Dodge a Devilish Self-Control Loophole

You want another slice of cake or glass of wine, but you know you shouldn’t have one.

It’s the classic self-control dilemma.

But luckily there’s a loophole; sometimes we mentally give ourselves permission to indulge: “Well, I’ve worked hard today, so I’ll have another slice of cake or glass of wine.”

Now there’s a ‘license to sin’.

A recent study cleverly demonstrates this ‘license to sin’ and shows how dangerous it can be (de Witt Huberts et al., 2012).

A little snack

To investigate, the researchers tricked one group of people into thinking they’d worked twice as hard on a boring test as another group.

 temptation

Both groups were then asked to do a ‘taste test’ of some rather tempting looking snacks.

The group that thought they’d worked harder now had more of a ‘license to sin’ as a reward to themselves.

And sure enough they ate, on average, 130 calories more in 10 minutes than the other group.

It’s fascinating that the participants did this without being told they’d worked harder or being given any other cues.

Also remember that, on average, both groups had their mental self-control muscles depleted the same amount as they’d both spent the same time doing the boring task.

Avoid the loophole

What this study is showing is that these well-worn mental thought processes can be insidious. The mind has all sorts of tricks it plays so that it can get what it wants.

The ‘license to sin’ is one of them. You want to over-indulge, so your mind creates this little story that says: I’ve worked hard, so I deserve it.

The clever thing is that it can completely bypass all those logical, rational things we’ve told ourselves about healthy eating (or whatever it is) and, non-coincidentally, we get what we want.

None of this is to say that we shouldn’t indulge ourselves from time-to-time, but the question is: how often is the license to sin being invoked?

It’s a way of allowing our misbehaviour that is like an exception we all know about, but somehow don’t pull ourselves up on.

Being more aware of, and watching out for this trick may be useful in bolstering our self-control.

source: PsyBlog