Health benefits and risks of chocolate

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The next time you eat a piece of chocolate, you may not have to feel so guilty about it. Despite its bad reputation for causing weight gain, a number of health benefits may be associated with this delicious treat.
Chocolate is made from tropical Theobroma cacao tree seeds. Its earliest use dates back to the Olmec civilization in Mesoamerica.

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

Chocolate has since become a popular food product that millions enjoy every day, thanks to its unique, rich, and sweet taste.

But what effect does eating chocolate have on our health?

Fast facts on chocolate

-Here are some key points about chocolate. More detail is in the main article.
-Chocolate consumption has long been associated with conditions such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, and hypertension.
-Chocolate is believed to contain high levels of antioxidants.
-Some studies have suggested chocolate could lower cholesterol levels and prevent memory decline.
-Chocolate contains a large number of calories.
-People who are seeking to lose or maintain weight should eat chocolate only in moderation.

Benefits

-Chocolate might not be all bad.
-Chocolate might not be all bad.
-Chocolate receives a lot of bad press because of its high fat and sugar content. Its consumption has been associated with acne, obesity, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and diabetes.

However, according to a review of chocolate’s health effects published in the Netherlands Journal of Medicine, it’s not all bad news.

The authors point to the discovery that cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate, contains biologically active phenolic compounds.

This has changed people’s views on chocolate, and it has stimulated research into how it might impact aging, and conditions such as oxidative stress, blood pressure regulation, and atherosclerosis.

Chocolate’s antioxidant potential may have a range of health benefits. The higher the cocoa content, as in dark chocolate, the more benefits there are. Dark chocolate may also contain less fat and sugar, but it is important to check the label.

Eating chocolate may have the following benefits:

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

It is important to note that the possible health benefits mentioned below came from single studies. More research is needed to confirm that eating chocolate can really improve people’s health.

In addition, chocolate bars do not contain only cocoa. The benefits and risks of any other ingredients, such as sugar and fat, need to be considered.

1) Cholesterol

One study, published in The Journal of Nutrition, suggests that chocolate consumption might help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, also known as “bad cholesterol.”

The researchers set out to investigate whether chocolate bars containing plant sterols (PS) and cocoa flavanols (CF) have any effect on cholesterol levels.

The authors concluded: “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.”

2) Cognitive function

Scientists at Harvard Medical School have suggested that drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day could help keep the brain healthy and reduce memory decline in older people.

The researchers found that hot chocolate helped improve blood flow to parts of the brain where it was needed.

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.”

Results of a lab experiment, published in 2014, indicated that a cocoa extract, called lavado, might reduce or prevent damage to nerve pathways found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. This extract could help slow symptoms such as cognitive decline.

Another study, published in 2016 in the journal Appetite, suggests eating chocolate at least once weekly could improve cognitive function.

3) Heart disease

Research published in The BMJ, suggests that consuming chocolate could help lower the risk of developing heart disease by one-third.

Based on their observations, the authors concluded that higher levels of chocolate consumption could be linked to a lower risk of cardiometabolic disorders.

They call for further experimental studies to confirm whether consuming chocolate is beneficial.

4) Stroke

Canadian scientists, in a study involving 44,489 individuals, found that people who ate one serving of chocolate were 22 percent less likely to experience a stroke than those who did not. Also, those who had about two ounces of chocolate a week were 46 percent less likely to die from a stroke.

A further study, published in the journal Heart in 2015, tracked the impact of diet on the long-term health of 25,000 men and women.

The findings suggested that eating up to 100 grams (g) of chocolate each day may be linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

5) Fetal growth and development

Eating 30 g (about one ounce) of chocolate every day during pregnancy might benefit fetal growth and development, according to a study presented at the 2016 Pregnancy Meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Atlanta, GA.

6) Athletic performance

Athletes eat chocolate
Chocolate may help athletes cover more distance while using less oxygen.
Findings published in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggest that a little dark chocolate might boost oxygen availability during fitness training.

Researchers who studied cyclists doing time trials in the United Kingdom found that “After eating dark chocolate, the riders used less oxygen when cycling at a moderate pace and also covered more distance in a two-minute flat-out time trial.”

The scientists believe that the success of dark chocolate in this case is that it contains flavonols known as epicatechins, which enhance the release of nitric oxide in the body. Beetroot juice has a similar effect.

Light vs. dark chocolate

Manufacturers of light, or milk, chocolate, claim that their product is better for health because it contains milk, and milk provides protein and calcium. Supporters of dark chocolate point to the higher iron content and levels of antioxidants in their product.

How do the nutrients compare?

Here are some sample nutrient levels in light and dark chocolate,

-Nutrient Light (100 g) Dark (100 g)
-Energy 531 kcal 556 kcal
-Protein 8.51 g 5.54 g
-Carbohydrate 58 g 60.49 g
-Fat 30.57 g 32.4 g
-Sugars 54 g 47.56 g
-Iron 0.91 mg 2.13 mg
-Phosphorus 206 mg 51 mg
-Potassium 438 mg 502 mg
-Sodium 101 mg 6 mg
-Calcium 251 mg 30 mg
-Cholesterol 24 mg 5 mg

The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of cocoa, and so, in theory, the higher the level of antioxidants there will be in the bar.

However, nutrients vary widely in commercially available chocolate bars, depending on the brand and type you choose. It is best to check the label if you want to be sure of the nutrients.

Unsweetened chocolates and 100-percent cocoa products are available for purchase online, and at some grocery and health food stores.

Risks and precautions

Chocolate may have health benefits, but it can have some negative effects, too.

-Chocolate can lead to tooth decay.
-Chocolate that is high in sugar can lead to tooth decay and weight gain.
-Weight gain: Some studies suggest that chocolate consumption is linked to lower body mass index (BMI) and central body fat. However, chocolate can have a high calorie count due to its sugar and fat content. Anyone who is trying to slim down or maintain their weight should limit their chocolate consumption and check the label of their favorite product.

Sugar content: The high sugar content of most chocolate can also be a cause of tooth decay.

Migraine risk: Some people may experience an increase in migraines when eating chocolate regularly due to cocoa’s tyramine, histamine, and phenylalanine content. However, research is mixed.

Bone health: There is some evidence that chocolate might cause poor bone structure and osteoporosis. The results of one study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that older women who consumed chocolate every day had lower bone density and strength.

Heavy metals: Some cocoa powders, chocolate bars, and cacao nibs may contain high levels of cadmium and lead, which are toxic to the kidneys, bones, and other body tissues.

In 2017, Consumer Lab tested 43 chocolate products and found that nearly all cocoa powders contained more than 0.3 mcg cadmium per serving, the maximum amount recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

All in all, eating chocolate can have both health benefits and risks. As ever, moderation is key.

Q:

We often hear now that chocolate is actually good for us. Do you think people should eat chocolate for its health benefits?

A:

Considering that heart disease is the number one killer and that dark chocolate has been shown to substantially reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, I believe regular chocolate consumption can be a good thing. Always choose above 70-percent cacao and select your brand wisely so as to keep your cadmium, lead, and sugar low while maximizing the antioxidant and flavonol benefits.

20 Things You Never Knew About Chocolate

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1. THERE ARE MULTIPLE CELEBRATIONS OF CHOCOLATE EACH YEAR.

Holiday makers are constantly on the hunt for a reason to munch on chocolate, so the calendar offers plenty of excuses to buy a bar. July 7 is also Chocolate Day, a nod to the historical tradition that the day marks when chocolate was first brought to Europe on July 7, 1550, though a number of sources argue that it might have hit the continent’s shores as far back as 1504, thanks to Christopher Columbus. Official day or not, we do know that chocolate first arrived in Europe some time in the 16th century. There’s also National Milk Chocolate Day on July 28, International Chocolate Day on September 13, and, of course, National Bittersweet Chocolate With Almonds Day on November 7.

2. CHOCOLATE IS ACTUALLY A VEGETABLE—KIND OF.

Milk and dark chocolate come from the cacao bean, which grows on the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao), an evergreen from the family Malvaceae (other members of the family include okra and cotton). This makes the most important part of the sweet treat a vegetable.

3. WHITE CHOCOLATE IS NOT CHOCOLATE.

Because it doesn’t contain cocoa solids or chocolate liquor, white chocolate isn’t chocolate in the strict sense. But it does contain parts of the cacao bean—mainly cocoa butter.

4. THE CACAO BEAN IS NATIVE TO MEXICO AND BOTH CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA.

It’s believed that inhabitants of these areas first started cultivating the bean as far back as 1250 BCE, and perhaps even earlier.

5. HOT CHOCOLATE WAS THE FIRST CHOCOLATE TREAT.

Cacao was brewed in both Mexican and Aztec culture, though the result was nothing like today’s hot chocolate—it was a typically bitter concoction that was often used for ceremonial occasions like weddings.

6. MARIE ANTOINETTE LOVED HOT CHOCOLATE (THE MODERN KIND).

Marie didn’t just love cake, she also loved chocolate, and hot chocolate was frequently served at the Palace of Versailles. It wasn’t just the taste everyone loved—it was also believed that the drink was an aphrodisiac.

7. CACAO WAS ONCE USED AS CURRENCY.

The Aztecs loved and valued the cacao bean so highly that they used it as currency during the height of their civilization.

8. SPANISH FRIARS HELPED SPREAD THE LOVE.

After cacao and chocolate were introduced to Europe, traveling Spanish friars took it to various monasteries, handily spreading it around the continent.

9. A PAIR OF BRITISH CONFECTIONERS INVENTED SOLID CHOCOLATE.

The Fry and Sons shop concocted what they called “eating chocolate” in 1847 by combining cocoa butter, sugar, and chocolate liquor. This was a grainy, solid form of the treat.

10. COCOA AND CACAO ARE THE SAME THING.

The words are interchangeable! It’s all one bean.

11. NAPOLEON LOVED CHOCOLATE.

The French leader demanded that wine and chocolate be made available to him and his senior advisers even during intense military campaigns.

12. BAKER’S CHOCOLATE ISN’T JUST FOR BAKING.

Dr. James Baker and John Hannon founded their chocolate company—later called Walter Baker Chocolate—in 1765. That’s where the term “Baker’s Chocolate” comes from, not to denote chocolate that’s just meant for cooking.

13. MILTON HERSHEY REALLY WAS A CANDY KING.

The Pennsylvania native may be best known for starting The Hershey Chocolate Company in good old Hershey, PA, but he got his start in candy long before hooking up with chocolate. He founded his first company, The Lancaster Caramel Company, when he was 30 years old.

14. MILK CHOCOLATE WAS INVENTED IN SWITZERLAND.

Daniel Peter created the tasty treat in 1875—after eight years of trying to make his recipe work. Condensed milk ended up being the key ingredient.

15. MAKING CHOCOLATE IS HARD WORK.

Despite its regal background and revered status, the cacao bean doesn’t just magically turn into chocolate—it takes about 400 beans to make a single pound of the good stuff.

16. THE FIRST CHOCOLATE BAR WAS MADE IN ENGLAND.

Way back in 1842, the Cadbury company made the very first chocolate bar. The company is still in existence, and is perhaps most famous for their delightful Easter-themed treats.

17. MOST CACAO IS NOW GROWN IN AFRICA.

Despite its Amazonian roots, most cacao—nearly 70 percent of the world’s supply—comes from Africa. The Ivory Coast is the largest single producer, providing about 30 percent of all the world’s cacao.

18. CACAO TREES CAN LIVE TO BE 200 YEARS OLD.

That may sound impressive, but the tropical beauties only make viable cacao beans for just 25 years of their lifespan.

19. THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF CACAO.

Most modern chocolate comes from forastero beans, which are considered easy to grow—though the crillo bean is believed to make much tastier chocolate.

20. CHOCOLATE HAS A SPECIAL MELTING POINT.

Chocolate is the only edible substance to melt around 93° F, just below the human body temperature. That’s why chocolate melts so easily on your tongue.

Fun Facts About Chocolate

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What Is It?

-It takes 400 cocoa beans to make one pound of chocolate.
-Each cacao tree produces approximately 2,500 beans.
-Research to date supports that chocolate can be enjoyed as part of a balanced, heart-healthy diet and lifestyle.
-The average serving of milk chocolate has about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of decaf coffee.
-Because cacao trees are so delicate, farmers lose, on average, 30 percent of their crop each year.
-Studies have demonstrated that one of the major saturated fats in chocolate does not raise cholesterol like other hard fats–meaning chocolate can be enjoyed in moderation.
-Chocolate comes from a fruit tree; it’s made from a seed.
-Theobroma Cacao is the tree that produces cocoa beans, and it means “food of the gods.” Carolus Linnaeus, the father of plant taxonomy, named it.

Where Is It From?

-There are an estimated 1.5 million cocoa farms in West Africa.
-Most cocoa–70 percent–hails from West Africa.
-Cocoa is raised by hand, on small, family-owned farms.
-Cacao leaves can move 90 degrees, from horizontal to vertical, to get sun and to protect younger leaves.
-Some cacao trees are more than 200 years old, but most give marketable cocoa beans for only the first 25 years.
-The average size of a cocoa farm in West Africa is 7 to 10 acres.
-Rudolph Lindt designed the first conching machine, its bed curved like a conch shell.
-Cote d’Ivoire is the single largest producer of cocoa, providing roughly 40 percent of the world’s supply.
-Through some programs supported by industry and partners including foundations and governments, farmers are now earning between 20 percent and 55 percent more from their crops.
-Most cocoa farms are not owned by the companies that make chocolate.

Who Depends On It?

-Benjamin Franklin sold chocolate in his print shop in Philadelphia.
-The price of cocoa can fluctuate daily–affecting farmers’ incomes.
-Cacao beans were so valuable to early Mesoamericans that they were used as currency.
-The average West African cocoa family has eight members.
-An Indonesian cocoa farming community built a giant statue of hands holding a cocoa pod.
-In addition to tending cacao trees, family members may harvest bananas or other fruit crops.
-The ancients also fermented the pulp of the cacao pod to make other beverages.
-In November, Germans celebrate St. Martin–a knight who shared his cloak with a beggar–with a lantern-lit parade, sweets and steaming hot chocolate.
-Worldwide, 40 million to 50 million people depend upon cocoa for their livelihood.
-Spanish royalty gave cakes of cacao in their dowries.
-The Aztec emperor Montezuma drank 50 cups of cacao a day from a golden chalice.

Savor It

-It takes two to four days to make a single-serving chocolate bar.
-Chocolate contains two doses of cocoa butter—the natural amount from the bean, plus an extra dollop to bump up creaminess.
-Cacao percentage determines the amount of cocoa bean products by weight in a chocolate.
-“Cacao” is how you say “cocoa” in Spanish.
-Champagne and sparkling wines are too acidic to pair well with milk or dark chocolate. Try pairing a sweet bubbly with white chocolate and red wine with dark. In general you want to match the sweetness level of the wine with the sweetness level of the chocolate.
-Some cocoa certification programs are modeled on success with a similar product–coffee.
-Chocolate can make dogs and cats ill–meaning no tastings for your furry friend, and more for you.
-A farmer must wait four to five years for a cacao tree to produce its first beans.
-German chocolate cake was named for Sam German, who developed a sweet bar for Baker’s Chocolate–and was not from Germany.
-The French celebrate April Fool’s Day with chocolate-shaped fish, or “Poisson d’Avril.”

Unbelievable Things You Never Knew About Distance Bracelets

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The activity bracelet is a smart connected object that measures your daily physical activity like distance traveled, number of steps, calories burned, quality of sleep, etc. Like a coach, he advises you and encourages you to move to keep fit and improve your daily life. Many models bloom regularly on the market, all more sophisticated than the others. How to navigate and make the right choice? This folder should help you there. Sport Passion selects and comments for you recent models and better value for money and makes you enjoy all year round discounts at its partners. These are also known as distance bracelets.

Check out more distance bracelets designs for you and your loved one at BraceletWorld.

What is a connected activity tracker bracelet and how to choose it?

An activity bracelet, or activity tracker, is a connected object that measures your physical activity like calories burned, number of steps taken in the day, distance traveled, quality of sleep, even number of floors gravis, intensive minutes, etc., summarizes these data and presents them in the form of a detailed report. He can even provide useful tips on your diet and activity. It is to inform you about your daily physical activity, to motivate you to move and to spend even more and of course to keep you in good health. Simple and user-friendly, he is a real personal coach to follow your expenses and keep fit.

Smartphone applications or software for your computer allow you to exploit your data and share it on the Internet or even compare your business with that of your friends for increased motivation.To learn more about the activity bracelet, how it works and how to choose the right model, consult experts.

Notice and comparison of connected activity bracelets

In this comparison, we have deliberately only proposed activity bracelets. Know that more and more sports watches have an activity tracking function in addition to their sports functions. In addition, some watches are also designed for mixed use city and sport. They are both elegant and very complete in terms of functions. You will find these models in our comparison of cardio-GPS watches.To highlight the main features of the selected bracelets, we display small icons at the top right of each model. Hover over an icon to see the comment associated with it and some features.

The shape, a point to consider when choosing

The activity bracelet has 3 different shapes, the watch, the bracelet and the case to clip. Some models have more design. Others are simpler and more discreet. The activity bracelet may or may not have a touch screen or LED. The latter makes it possible to display the data resulting from the physical activity and also the time.

Choose your bracelet from the waist

The size is also an important point to consider when choosing a connected bracelet, because it ensures the comfort of the user. On the market, this accessory is available in several sizes. The choice therefore depends on the template of the user.

Functionalities

The connected bracelet can contain several features. The choice therefore depends on the objective to be achieved. The activity tracker can be equipped with a pedometer function, the purpose of which is to measure the number of steps made during a race, a step of a stair climb. It can also be equipped with a distance function traveled. As its name suggests, it calculates the distance made using an accelerometer. Some models of connected bracelet can also be equipped with a function of calories burned, a heart rate monitor, the analysis of activity, sleep, health, an option and monitoring objectives, a social parameter etc.

The autonomy of the bracelet

Autonomy is also important to buy a connected bracelet. It varies from 2 to 3 days to more than a year. It should be noted that the energy consumption of this accessory is related to the type of display, the Bluetooth system and also to the components that are installed there. For a bracelet that will be worn permanently, it should choose the one whose autonomy is quite high.

Connectivity: a point not to be neglected

It is also necessary to take into account the connectivity since, to transfer the data, it is necessary that the bracelet is compatible with the Smart phone. Most models perform this transfer using a USB flash drive, a jack or a wireless system. In addition, many models of this accessory work with devices with iOS, Android, Mac or Windows.An unchanging common point between all these models: they give all the time.

Check for compatibility

The connected bracelet works in Bluetooth 4.0, a popular version of sports wristbands that is very energy-efficient. It’s an advantage for their autonomy.Depending on the model, the results will be displayed directly on the wristband screen or on the smartphone via the dedicated free application.

For the most elaborate models, it will be necessary to check its compatibility with the operating systems of the smart phone, Android or iOS. If necessary, it will always be possible to recover the data on a computer.

Take into account your autonomy

The battery operated wristband has a battery life of up to one year; after it will change the battery. The other wristbands, working with an included battery, can reach from 5 to ten days of autonomy, even more.

Choose the right features according to the usage

Sports coach, tracer or activity sensor, calorie counter, sleep or heart rate monitor, distance traveled and number of steps performed, etc., the connected advertising bracelet presents different functionalities according to the models.

Pedometer, step counter: To stay in shape, 10,000 steps a day are recommended by health organizations. More than a goal to achieve, the main thing is to encourage your employees to move to stay in shape.

Sleep monitor: Active or not active, the connected bracelet, worn at night, assesses the quality of sleep: it analyzes the sleep cycles, namely the different phases of falling asleep and deep sleep.

Heart Rate Monitor: measures heartbeats at rest or during physical activity.

Calorie counter: measures the number of calories consumed during the effort.

Appreciate your design

On the aesthetic side, the various features of the bracelet between the size of the touch screen or not, and its round or square shape offer a colorful, sober, chic or sporty design: the connected bracelet is of all trends. The bracelet can be worn on the wrist every day or just for sports activities.

The squishy phenomenon – How did these toys become so popular?

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Are there any squishy lovers out there? If your answer is a resounding yes, you should keep reading. On the other hand, if your answer is “No, I don’t even know what those are”, then you have to keep reading!

 

If you don’t know what squishies are, that’s ok, but if you still haven’t even heard of them, well, my friend, you must be living under a rock. In the past five years, squishies have changed a lot. These toys started out as niche products that only hardcore fans of Japanese culture heard of. Now, they are huge, trendy, and everyone wants to have them.

 

Squishies are squeeze toys, but they are nothing like your stress-relief squeeze ball. For one, they could never be as dull, and two, they could never be so unpopular. Every squishy is absolutely kawaii (“cute” in Japanese). They have faces, and they come in dozens of adorable shapes, and dozens of delicious scents. Some squishies are so lifelike that you’d mistake them for real food.

The most popular squishies come from four companies – Sanrio, Breadou, SAN-X, and RE-MENT.

 

SAN-X and Sanrio squishy toys come in a bunch of different sizes and shapes. But, their squishies are so recognizable because these companies own some of the most famous cartoon characters in the world. Characters like RIlakkuma and Hello Kitty belong to them and are often an inspiration for their squishies. Kawaii fans and squishy collectors love that fact, and they gather and trade them online.

 

On the other side of the coin, we have Breadou and RE-MENT. These two companies are making completely different squishy toys. Breadou toys look like pastries, whether they are shaped like a turtle, a cat, or something third. Each of Breadou squishies smells like a bread loaf that just got out of the oven. These features are what makes these products so insanely popular, and rather expensive. Expensive for squishies, that is.

 

RE-MENT squishy toys also come in dozens of different models. They are also pretty pricey, but their fans don’t seem to mind. Their squishies come in the shape of popular anime characters, as well as traditional Japanese dolls.

But, in the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re a kawaii fan, or you just now understand why these squishable toys are so popular. Why? Well, because once you hold a squishy, you’ll want to own one, and once you own one, you’ll want to own a collection. If I’m right, you know what you need to do. Order your squishy online, now!