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Science Says A Chocolate Bar A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

Science Says A Chocolate Bar A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

Has chocolate replaced an apple a day? There can be a new golden ticket to your health but one that doesn’t involve touring a creepy factory with orange creatures running around. And I’m not talking about Snooki even though Jersey Shore has been off the air for years. What are the health benefits that come from chocolate and what type of chocolate are we talking about here?

No More Candy Bars

When we are talking about chocolate and potential health benefits we are not referring to chocolate bars that you may find at the checkout line in a grocery or convenience store but true dark chocolate. This type of chocolate is a night and day difference to it’s “chocolate-like” counterparts.

Dark chocolate of at least 70% cacao is what you’re looking for here and ideally 90%. If you’ve eaten Hershey bars your whole life it can be quite an adjustment as dark chocolate has a deeper, richer and more bitter taste. When you start eating this regularly though you develop the taste for it and will not return to sugar filled candy bars.

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When you start eating dark chocolate you can look to start providing yourself with some great health benefits. Here are 5 things that come from eating dark chocolate.

1. Dark Chocolate Has A Very High Mineral Content

When you consume dark chocolate you are getting natural amounts of:

  • Fiber
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
  • Zinc
  • Selenium Gomez..

2. Dark Chocolate Can Lower Blood Pressure

Studies out of Germany took 18 weeks to observe otherwise healthy individuals that had higher than optimal blood pressure. When small portions of dark chocolate were added into the diet it was seen efficiently reduce their blood pressure.

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3. Dark Chocolate Can Help Manage & Lower Blood Sugar

This tends to surprise people because when you think of chocolate you tend to think of sugar. In the case of dark chocolate, there is some sugar but it is primarily made of fat. Dark chocolate, however, is made up of the good fats like oleic acid which is what you find in olive oil. The higher fat content is what helps keep the glycemic index low which helps in keeping blood sugar low. The polyphenols in dark chocolate, among their many benefits, are believed to promote vascular health and glucose control.

4. Dark Chocolate Is High In Antioxidants

This to me is the best selling point on it. A quick lesson on antioxidants; they help prevent free radical damage in the body and free radicals are what are formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Cell oxidation can roughly be compared to when things rust. Antioxidants then are what help prevent damage from cell oxidation which includes premature aging, DNA damage and certain types of cancer. Researchers in Italy found that the antioxidant content in dark chocolate would help combat the negative of effects of free radical damage in the body.

5. Dark Chocolate Can Help Prevent Cardiovascular Disease

The antioxidant power shines through again through the form of those great polyphenols but also flavonoids. You might be thinking flavonoids are the love child between Flavor Flav and The Noid from Dominos, but they are thought to have heart protecting effects.

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Research out of Australia showed that small daily dark chocolate consumption could potentially avert 70 non-fatal, and 15 fatal cardiovascular events per 10,000 people treated over 10 years.

Wrapping It Up

So does this mean you can start eating dark chocolate by the shovel full? Well, you’ll need to slow down your horses there fella. Dark chocolate still contains a lot of calories due to that high fat content but the advantage is it only takes a few squares to help satisfy that sugar and chocolate craving.

If you notice with the studies they all mention SMALL amounts of dark chocolate that produced results. But having a square (or two) a day is a great way to get a treat that is also going to be providing you some tremendous health benefits.

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If you’re new to dark chocolate start off easy with a 50% cacao version and start working your way up. When you get up to 90% lower grades which once might have seemed too bitter will not seem to become overly sweet.

And as far as those milk chocolate candy bars, you’ll never want to see them again.

Just like Snooki..

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Jamie Logie

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Last Updated on October 23, 2018

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

My mother was a great knitter and produced some wonderful garments such as Aran sweaters which were extremely fashionable when I was young. She also knitted while my father drove, which caused great amusement. I often wondered why she did that but I think I know the answer now.

Knitting is good for your mental health, according to some research studies. The Washington Post mentions a 2013 survey of about 3,500 knitters who were asked how they felt after a knitting session. Over 80% of them said they definitely felt happier. It is not a totally female occupation as more and more men take it up to get the same benefits. Harry Styles (One Direction) enjoys knitting. So does Russell Crowe although he does it to help him with anger management!

The Neural Knitwork Project

In Australia, Neural Knitworks was started to encourage people to knit and also become aware of neuroscience and mental health issues. Knit-ins were organized but garments were not the only things created. The knitters produced handmade neurons (1,665 of them!) to make a giant brain. The 2015 project will make more neural knitted networks (neural knitworks) and they will be visible online. You can see some more examples of woolly neurons on the Neural Knitworks Facebook page.

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While people knitted, crocheted and crafted yarn, they listened to experts talking about mental health issues such as addiction, dementia, depression, and how neurons work.

The knitting and neural connection

The human brain has about 80 billion neurons. Learning new skills, social interaction, and physical activity all help to forge neural connections which keep the brain healthy and active. They are creating networks to control movement and make memories. The knitters learn that as they create the woollen neurons, their own neurons are forming new pathways in their brains. Their creations are mimicking the processes in their brains to a certain extent. At the same time, their brains are registering new and interesting information as they learn interesting facts about the brain and how it works. I love the knitworks and networks pun. What a brilliant idea!

More mental health benefits from knitting

Betsan Corkhill is a physiotherapist and has published some results of completed studies on her website, appropriately named Stitchlinks. She conducted some experiments herself and found that knitting was really helpful in reducing panic and anxiety attacks.

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“You are using up an awful lot of brain capacity to perform a coordinated series of movements. The more capacity you take up by being involved in a complex task, the less capacity you have for bad thoughts.”- Betsan Corkhill

Knitters feel happier and in a better mood

Ann Futterman-Collier, Well Being Lab at Northern Arizona University, is very interested in how textile therapy (sewing, knitting, weaving and lace-making) can play an important role in mood repair and in lifting depressive states.

She researched 60 women and divided them into three different groups to do some writing, meditating and work with textiles. She monitored their heartbeat, blood pressure and saliva production. The women in the textiles group had the best results when their mood was assessed afterwards. They were in a better mood and had managed to reduce their negative thoughts better than those in the writing and meditation groups.

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“People who were given the task to make something actually had less of an inflammatory response in the face of a ‘stressor’.” – Dr. Futterman Collier

The dopamine effect on our happiness

Our brains produce a chemical called dopamine. This helps us to feel happy, more motivated, and assists also with focus and concentration. We get a boost of dopamine after sex, food, exercise, sleep, and creative activities.

There are medications to increase dopamine but there are lots of ways we can do it naturally. Textile therapy and crafting are the easiest and cheapest. We can create something and then admire it. In addition, this allows for a little bit of praise and congratulations. Although this is likely not your goal, all these can boost our dopamine and we just feel happier and more fulfilled. These are essential in facing new challenges and coping with disappointment in life.

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“Sometimes, people come up to me when I am knitting and they say things like, “Oh, I wish I could knit, but I’m just not the kind of person who can sit and waste time like that.” How can knitting be wasting time? First, I never just knit; I knit and think, knit and listen, knit and watch. Second, you aren’t wasting time if you get a useful or beautiful object at the end of it.” – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much.

If you thought knitting and textiles were for old ladies, think again!

Featured photo credit: DSC_0012/Mary-Frances Main via flickr.com

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