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You Are Wrong About Chocolate…

You Are Wrong About Chocolate…

I have to make a confession. I am a chocoholic! I promise that this article will be as balanced as possible but if there is some bias, I am sure you will forgive me.

The Aztecs and the Mayan people of Central America highly valued the cacao plant and its seeds. It seems that the Nahuatl language had the word ‘xocolatl’ for a cocoa drink which means ‘bitter water’.

Interesting also to look at who eats the most chocolate globally. The Germans are top of the list as their annual per capita consumption is a whopping 11.39 kg (25.11 lbs) while the US consumption is less than half of that at 5.09 kg (11.22 lbs).

There are lots of myths about chocolate and we were all told that chocolate could make you obese, give you acne, toothache and headaches, not to mention insomnia!

It’s time to debunk some of these myths and get the facts right. You will be pleasantly surprised.

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1. Chocolate will keep you awake

The people who spout this myth are trying to tell you that chocolate contains loads of caffeine and that is going to give you a sleepless night! This is false, as the actual amount of caffeine in a chocolate bar is about the same as that of a cup of decaffeinated coffee. The cocoa bean contains only about 0.5% caffeine while dry coffee beans have 1.2% caffeine.

2. Chocolate makes kids bounce off the walls

This is an interesting myth, because the fact is that parents were expecting their kids to be hyper after a sugar or chocolate fix and so they were, according to them. The reality was quite different as the BBC discovered. There is no firm evidence to show that too many sweet things will make the kids bounce off the walls.

Choctruffles

    3. Chocolate could give you a stroke

    Recent studies have turned this on top of its head. Provided you eat moderate amounts of dark chocolate (74% of cocoa solids), you could cut the risk of stroke by 22%. Those people who did get a stroke (not from eating chocolate!) were 45% less likely to die if they had consumed moderate amounts of chocolate on a regular basis.

    4. Chocolate will give you acne

    Teenagers are usually told this but there is no scientific evidence at all that this is the case. If there is too much sebum, then this could block pores and lead to acne. But all the studies done so far have debunked this theory and there is simply not enough evidence to support it. There were 21 studies done and not one of them was able to point the finger at chocolate although dairy products did not do too well. Just have some dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate!

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    5. Chocolate will give you cavities

    They say this because chocolate has a high sugar content, although you can sidestep that issue by going for dark chocolate instead of white or milk chocolate which are usually sweeter. But the great thing about chocolate is that it melts quickly in the mouth, so that there is not much time for bacteria to form which might cause cavities. Actually, the cocoa butter acts as a sort of protective barrier which also prevents the bacteria getting the upper hand. Fluoride is also one element in chocolate and that is also useful in protecting teeth, as we know.

    hotchoc

      6. Chocolate is an aphrodisiac

      Lots of old wives’ tales about the power of chocolate as a sexual stimulant but there is no scientific evidence to back it up at all. Casanova is thought to have been a great fan of chocolate but studies have not shown that chocolate can affect your libido or sexual prowess in any way.

      7. Chocolate will not affect your mood in any way

      Your good mood depends on the serotonin chemical, which works as a neurotransmitter, which can help boost your mood and avoid mood swings. This may be a problem for women going through the menopause. Now, chocolate can help because it contains tryptophan which can stimulate the production of serotonin, so the positive effects on mood are notable.

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      Chocsouffle

        8. Chocolate will make you fat

        Yes, it will, if you eat lots and lots of it! But in moderation, chocolate can help you in many ways. For example, did you know that a single portion of 70% chocolate can give you the same amount of protein that you would get from a cup of broccoli? It also can give you fiber and also some of the healthy fats in the cocoa butter. All this means that you feel full and you are not subject to so many cravings.

        Chocolate also has polyphenols together with tryptophan which can improve your mood. It also makes you feel less stressed out and that can make the whole weight loss adventure more relaxed. In addition, chocolate contains epicatechin which boosts the metabolism, which will help you to burn off calories.

        9. Chocolate can be bad for your cholesterol

        Not true at all. Some fatty acids are good for you, others are not. Let us have a look at which fats are in chocolate. Most of it comes from the cocoa butter. There are three different types. One is oleic acid which is also found in olive oil and is actually great for your heart . The other one is palmitic acid (about 33%) which can increase the bad cholesterol (LDL) and clog up arteries. The good news though is that main fatty acid in chocolate is stearic acid and it seems to have a neutral effect on cholesterol, and does not have any effect on the LDL or HDL levels. So, having chocolate in moderate quantities is not going to affect your cholesterol one way or the other. Did you know that a serving of unsweetened cocoa has 0 grams of saturated fat?

        10. Chocolate could give you a heart attack

        Another myth still doing the rounds! But guess what studies carried out by Harvard University School of Public Health showed? They looked at 136 studies on chocolate and its effects on cardiovascular health. All these studies seem to suggest that there is a lower risk of heart disease when chocolate is part of your diet, again in moderate quantities. They found that it lowered blood pressure and also had an anti inflammatory function, both important for a healthy heart.

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        choc cake

          11. Chocolate can become an addiction

          Don’t worry – my chocolate habit is under control! But many people are convinced that you can become addicted to it. This would be true if you started eating several bars a day and also which type you were hooked on.

          The fact is the addictive elements, such as theobromine and cannabinoids, are present in chocolate but in very small quantities. In order to become addicted you would have to eat up to 17 ozs of it every day for quite a while!

          Now that we have debunked the 11 most notorious myths about chocolate, why not tell us why you like chocolate so much?

          Featured photo credit: various chocolates as a background – sweet food via shutterstock.com

          More by this author

          Robert Locke

          Freelance writer

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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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