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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..

More by this author

Jamie Logie

Jamie is a personal trainer and health coach with a degree in Kinesiology and Food and Nutrition.

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

More Health Tips

Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
[2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
[3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
[4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
[5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
[6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
[7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
[8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
[9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
[10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
[11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
[12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
[15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
[16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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