Benefits of Chocolate - Yummy!
Chocolate is a delicious substance that was consumed as a “nectar of the gods” in Mayan ceremonies for its supposedly sacred properties. Centuries later, chocolate lovers continue to celebrate the treat for its tempting taste and its melt-in-your-mouth texture. Yet aside from its sensory appeal, dark chocolate is also becoming lauded for its health benefits. Here are the top 5 health benefits of dark chocolate.
Rich In Antioxidants
Protects Heart Health
The blood pressure-lowering effects of flavonols may also improve heart health. In addition to lowering blood pressure, dark chocolate has also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and to increase HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). Collectively, these effects may contribute to the decreased risk of heart disease that is seen in observational studies of individuals who consume dark chocolate.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of chocolate is that it simply makes us happy. Dark chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which is known to release endorphins in our brains. Endorphins are the feel-good chemicals whose release can be found in other pleasurable activities, such as aerobic exercise and sex. Additionally, chocolate stimulates the release of serotonin, a mood-lifting neurotransmitter that is often found to be low in individuals with depression.
Stimulates Sexual Arousal
For those who experience a lack of libido or who simply want to enhance a romantic evening with their partner, dark chocolate may be a way to enhance the experience. Chocolate has been used since its Aztec origins as an aphrodisiac. The arousing properties of dark chocolate may occur because of the appeal of its silky-smooth texture. Aside from its aesthetic value, dark chocolate consumption can also trigger the release of oxytocin, which is the pair-bonding neurotransmitter that is associated with building intimate relationships.
These powerful health benefits of dark chocolate are a wonderful excuse to buy a bar. However, before stocking your shelves, it is important to understand that many of these positive health effects can be negated by overconsumption of chocolate or eating chocolate with a high sugar content. For best results, seek out dark chocolate with 70% or higher cacao content that contain minimal added ingredients.
Boost Your Immunity!
Health headlines are frequently flooded with findings on the latest miracle product to boost immunity. With the constant flux in information, which claims can we truly trust?
Rather than following the trends, follow a healthy lifestyle. Here are five natural ways to strengthen our immune system to stay healthy.
Meditation can be practiced through visualization, through repeating a mantra, or through mindfulness, among other techniques.
Activity is closely related to immunity. Physical activity functions as a natural cleansing process for the body by flushing out bacteria from the lungs and airways. However, increasing duration or intensity of exercise is not necessarily better for individuals who already have a regular workout routine because heavy, long-term exercise (e.g. marathon running and competitive athletics) may actually compromise immunity. For ideal immune functioning, exercise regularly at a moderate level or simply maintain an active lifestyle.
Get Outdoor & Smell the Roses
A sizeable number of key ingredients in drugs developed today are either isolated from plants or replicated from chemicals in plants. Thus, being outdoors brings us home to the millions of immune-boosting chemicals that we may attempt to replace in the form of pills.
Avoid False Claims
As it stands, there is limited regulation in marketing and producing “immune-boosting” herbs, supplements, or other pills. For the majority of supplements that are sold, there is weak or limited evidence behind the effectiveness of the properties that they promise. Rather than take these compounds in the form of a pill, it is often more beneficial to go with our gut and go to the source. Select a diet full of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and other compounds that build immunity without boasting bolded claims.
Rest Nightly & Sleep Well
Sleep is fundamental to our natural immunity. Inadequate sleep is associated with a long list of physical health problems associated with immunity. In particular, sleep deprivation suppresses immune function, making us more susceptible to colds, flus, and bacterial infections. Researchers recommend around 7 hours of sleep per night for best protection from disease.
For improved immunity, stick with natural, lifestyle ways to enhance overall health, such as stress reduction, physical activity, and sleep, rather than seeking out “immune boosters” in the form of pills.
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