4 reasons chocolate is good for your health

4 reasons chocolate is good for your health

By Deborah Enos

Published September 23, 2013

LiveScience
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    CAGRI OZGUR

Chocolate is one of my favorite foods; not only because it is tasty, but also because it’s really good for your health.

The most recent evidence of this comes from an August study in the journal Neurology.  Researchers found that chocolate may help older people keep their brains healthy and their thinking sharp. Study participants who drank two cups of cocoa daily for 30 days showed an 8.3 percent increase in blood flow to the brain, and they improved their scores on memory and thinking tests. Score!

This new finding is promising, but it’s not the only health benefit that seems to come as a result of eating chocolate. Here are three more reasons why it’s smart to keep chocolate in your diet.

  • Heart Healthy — Daily chocolate consumption may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in some high-risk patients, according to a 2012 study in the journal BMJ.
  • Potentially Slimming —  If you’ve always thought of chocolate as a fat-inducing food, you may want to reacquaint yourself with this tasty treat. One study found that people who eat chocolate regularly are more likely to be thinner than those who don’t. People in the study who admitted to eating chocolate five times per week or more had a lower BMI (Body Mass Index) than those who ate chocolate less frequently, according to the 2012 study published the journal Archives of Internal Medicine. [Top 10 Bad Things That Are Good For You]
  • Appetite Control — Chocolate contains filling fiber, which is a natural appetite suppressant. So, if you give in to that chocolate craving, you may end up eating fewer calories than if you tried to avoid chocolate.

Although there are many reasons to enjoy chocolate, it’s also important to be smart about your consumption. Here are some tips for choosing high-quality chocolate, so you can retain all of its nutritional goodness.

The darker the chocolate, the better for your health. Pure chocolate is actually quite bitter, which is why it is almost always combined with other ingredients in a chocolate bar. But the chocolate part of that bar is what contains the good stuff: fiber, magnesium and antioxidants.

Make your own hot cocoa.  Hot cocoa that comes out of a packet is convenient, but it could be better for your health. To boost the nutritional profile of your hot cocoa, buy unsweetened powdered chocolate, and add your own sweetener. Also, keep it as dark as you can handle.

Get creative with cocoa. If you don’t like the idea of eating a dark chocolate bar or drinking cocoa regularly, you have some other options. Try sprinkling powdered cocoa in your oatmeal or cold cereal.

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Tiny 3D-printed organs could enable better drug testing

Tiny 3D-printed organs could enable better drug testing

By Jeremy Hsu

Published September 16, 2013

LiveScience
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    Hyun-Wook Kang oversees the 3D printer that will be used to print miniature organs for the “body on a chip” system. (WIFM.)

Miniature human organs made by 3D printing could create a “body on a chip” that enables better drug testing. That futuristic idea has become a new bioprinting project backed by $24 million from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The 2-inch “body on a chip” would represent a realistic testing ground for understanding how the human body might react to dangerous diseases, chemical warfare agents and new drugs intended to defend against biological or chemical attacks. Such technology could speed up drug development by replacing less-ideal animal testing or the simpler testing done on human cells in petri dishes and perhaps save millions or even billions of dollars from being wasted on dead-end drug candidates that fail in human clinical trials.

“The question is whether can you have a better system to test these drugs, so that you can bypass cell testing and animal testing by going straight to miniature organs,” said Tony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Atala’s group has pioneered 3D printing methods that aim to build human organs with layer upon layer of cells. Their bioprinting methods lay down the cell layers along with artificial scaffolding to keep an organ’s structure intact as it takes shape a technique that has allowed the group to make tiny, less complex versions of full-size human organs. [See Photos of the 3D-Printed ‘Body on a Chip’ System]

“We’re printing miniature solid organs: miniature livers, hearts, lungs and vascular structures (blood vessels),” Atala said.

The tiny organs intended for the “body on a chip” project don’t represent fully functional hearts, livers and kidneys. Instead, they represent small chunks of human tissue from such organs connected together by a system of fluid channels that circulate blood substitute to keep the cells alive all placed on a 2-inch (5 centimeters) chip with sensors to monitor everything.

Having an artificial circulatory system means researchers can introduce biological or chemical agents into the “blood” to see how it affects the different organs. The system’s sensors would measure the temperature, oxygen levels, pH (how acidic or basic a fluid is) and other factors affecting the “body on a chip.”

The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine is leading the $24-million effort funded by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Pacific (SSC Pacific), on behalf of Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).

But the group of experts building the “body on a chip” also hails from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the University of Michigan, the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, Morgan State University in Baltimore, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Together, they hope to create a drug development tool for the 21st century that helps modern medicine rapidly respond to fast-moving pandemics or bioterrorism attacks.

“We will know not just how a drug affects one organ, but how a drug affects major body systems together in a chip,” Atala said.

Losing weight: Lifestyle changes trump any diet

Losing weight: Lifestyle changes trump any diet

By Christopher Wanjek

Published August 21, 2013

LiveScience
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What’s the best diet for maintaining a healthy weight and warding off chronic diseases? Is it a low-carb diet, a high-carb diet, an all-vegetable diet, a no-vegetable diet?

Researchers say you’d be better off just forgetting the word diet, according to an editorial published August 20 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Two researchers Sherry Pagoto of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass., and Bradley Appelhans of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago call for an end to the so-called diet wars, because they are all equally as good, or bad, in helping people fight obesity. [7 Diet Tricks That Really Work]

In the end, patients only get confused thinking that one diet is superior to another, they said, when in fact changes in lifestyle, not diet types, are the true ways to prevent weight gain and the associated ills of diabetes and circulatory disease.

“The amount of resources that have gone into studying ‘what’ to eat is incredible, and years of research indicate that it doesn’t really matter, as long as overall calories are reduced,” Appelhans told LiveScience. “What does matter is ‘how’ to eat, as well as other things in lifestyle interventions, such as physical activity and supportive behaviors that help people stay on track [in the] long term.”

The researchers cite numerous studies that demonstrated only moderate success with various types of diet that focus on macronutrients: protein, fat or carbohydrates; but regardless of diet, without a lifestyle change, the weight comes back.

Conversely, several large and recent studies such as the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study and the China Da Qing Diabetes Prevention Study found lower weight and lower incidence of diabetes among study participants many years after the study’s initial completion because the subjects were taught howto lose weight through lifestyle interventions.

Lifestyle trumps diet

Pagoto described lifestyle interventions as three-prong: dietary counseling (how to control portions, reduce high-calorie foods and navigate restaurants), exercise counseling (how to set goals, target heart rate and exercise safely), and behavioral modification (how to self-monitor, problem solve, stay motivated and understand hunger).

“The ‘diet’ used within a lifestyle intervention can be low-fat, low-carb, etc. It doesn’t matter,” Pagoto said. “In fact, at least one study compared a low-fat lifestyle intervention with a low-carb lifestyle intervention, and it made no difference. The diet itself [is not] instrumental to the lifestyle interventions success; it is the behavioral piece that is key.”

Pagoto agreed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of weight gain and heart disease. A massive study involving more than 70,000 Seventh-Day Adventists, published in JAMA in June, found that dedicated vegetarians and pesco-vegetarians (who eat fish) live longer than meat eaters. But that doesn’t mean a vegetarian diet is all it takes to help you stay healthy. [10 Fun Ways to Eat a Healthy Diet]

“Adherence is key, and the way to destroy adherence is forcing foods on someone they do not like, do not know how to prepare, or can’t afford,” Pagoto said.

Why diets go wrong

Indeed, the authors wrote that the only consistent fact in all the diet studies is that adherence is the element most strongly associated with weight loss and disease risk reduction.

Pagoto described five challenges to any diet that she sees with her patients: having no time to cook or exercise; being too stressed out, having family members bring junk food home; not having anyone to exercise with, or feeling awkward exercising; and feel hungry all the time. The ratio of fat to carb to protein doesn’t come into play.

Most her of obese patients understand which foods are healthful and unhealthful, she said. So she works with her patients to find ways to make healthy behaviors more routine, regardless of the patient’s type of diet.

Pagoto and Appelhans call for more research on diet adherence. The authors described the amount of adherence research as miniscule compared to that on studying the large fad diets.

Similarly, the general population knows more about nuances of these diets Atkins, South Beach, the Zone and such than they do about the basics of adherence; and that, the authors said, is central to the obesity epidemic.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/08/21/losing-weight-lifestyle-changes-trump-any-diet/?intcmp=features#ixzz2eAPAcvIQ