Fun Articles!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Today is a great day for news! Below are two fun articles I found that I really enjoyed and thought were/are quite pertinent! Hope you enjoy!

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Chocoholics are breaking free from their anonymous status and spreading the good (for you) news. Recent studies suggest that chocolate can do more for the heart than just help you get over Mr. Not-So-Right. Here are all the reasons we’re turning to chocolate to boost our workouts.

chocolate for recovery – muscle repair

Let out your inner kid and embrace the chocolaty moo once again. Scientists have studied the effects of chocolate milk as a recovery drink and, as it turns out, it stacks up against (and even out performs) popular sports drinks like Gatorade. The beverage is packed with essential carbohydrates and protein (and tons of other nutrients) that are key to recovery and muscle repair after intense exercise. Rock your milk moustache within two hours after a sweat session to get the most out of the drink.

chocolate for yoga – magnesium and flexibility

Our favourite chocolatier/AcroYoga® teacher Daniel Scott, tells us that raw dark chocolate (we’re talking 70% cacao or more) can be a seriously healthful food. If you manage to get your hands on a good bar (we love Fearless Chocolate) then you and your yoga practice will be in for a real treat. Cacao is one of the richest food sources of magnesium and magnesium is said to improve flexibility. You don’t need to tell us twice: chocolate + yoga = a very good thing.

chocolate for endurance – fatigue-resistant muscles

The effects of chocolate on endurance are still in the testing process but if the University of California study keeps its cadence, we can thank the mice-thletes for another excuse to indulge (lightly). Participants who we’re given epicatechin (cacao’s primary nutritional ingredient) in combination with exercise, covered 50% more distance than those who didn’t get the sweet treat. Scientists found that their muscles were making new mitochondrion which means more fatigue-resistant muscles. The bad news is that only a very small amount of chocolate is needed to intensify the effects of a workout – very small as in half of one square of a typical chocolate bar. The challenge is to only eat one piece!

chocolate for the heart – increased blood flow

Turns out it’s true, chocolate can heal heartache. Chocolate lovers rejoiced when research from the University of Cambridge unveiled that there might be a link between chocolate consumption and the prevention of heart disease and stroke. The study suggests that chocolate can help increase blood flow to your heart, which puts less strain and stress on your ticker.
Choose your weapon wisely; dark chocolate has the greatest health benefits, while milk chocolate and white chocolate show little to no effect at all. And let’s not forget that chocolate is still high in sugar and fat which will inevitably reverse any benefits if you have too much. Just remember the golden (wrapper) rule: everything in moderation. I always bring a toonie on my runs so that I can grab a cho-milk on the way home. How do you incorporate the benefits of chocolate into your healthy lifestyle?
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Coffee may provide more than a momentary pick-me-up, says new research suggesting daily java consumption is tied to a lower risk of depression in women.
Researchers from Harvard University found that women who consumed two to three cups of caffeinated joe per day had a 15 percent lower risk of depression than non-coffee drinkers, while those who drank four-plus cups daily had a 20 percent lower risk. In general, women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with depression.
"Our results support a possible protective effect of caffeine, mainly from coffee consumption, on risk of depression," the researchers wrote Monday in theArchives of Internal Medicine. The researchers followed more than 50,000 participants in the Nurses Health Study -- one of the largest women's health studies in the U.S -- for 10 years.
But the study's authors cautioned that their results must be replicated before it's possible to draw any firm conclusions about caffeine and depression risk -- particularly in terms of any causal mechanisms that might be at play.
"Caffeine is known to affect the brain," study co-author Dr. Albert Ascherio, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, offered as one possible explanation. "It modulates the release of mood transmitters." He pointed out that previous studies have shown a link between coffee and decreased suicide risk, though as the National Institute of Health points out, caffeine may cause or worsen anxiety issues.
Dr. John Greden, executive director of the University of Michigan's Comprehensive Depression Center, agreed that the Harvard study -- as well as others that have come before it -- suggest interesting possibilities in terms of a link.
"Clinical depression is found in one out of every six people, roughly, and caffeine is one of the most widely used stimulants in the world," he said. "If you put those two together, it has always been a logical question to ask, 'Is there a connection?'"
But Greden cautioned that the current study has its limitations, too, particularly in terms of the participant pool.
"The women they studied had an average age of above 60, and most depressions start young," he said. "So in a strange way, this is probably a very protected group, given the fact that none had depression at the start of the study."
The results of the new study center on the potential impact of caffeine from coffee -- not caffeine in general -- namely because among the participants, the amount of caffeine consumed from other sources was too small for any stable results.
Ascherio said this should be just one of many additional considerations in future research that looks at possible caffeine and depression links.
In the meantime, he said the study should not prompt non-coffee drinkers to take up the habit. It could, however, offer current coffee drinkers some reassurance.
"I'm not saying we're on the path to discovering a new way to prevent depression," he said. "But I think you can be reassured that if you are drinking coffee, it is coming out as a positive thing."

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