Whether you have a partner or are riding solo this year, Valentine’s Day is about expressing love – for yourself and others. On that note, I am giving you a few great reasons to indulge a little in your favourite activities – your morning cup of java, your chocolate fix, and your close relationships – turns out, they are good for your health too.
Lower Blood Pressure with Dark Chocolate
I have a patient that always attends each appointing bearing tasty gifts for my staff – a small piece of 70% cocoa, dark chocolate for each one. Little did she know that each one inch square boasts several health benefits. Compounds in cocoa may help to reduce blood pressure, according to a new systematic review in The Cochrane Library. The researchers reviewed evidence from short-term trials in which participants were given dark chocolate or cocoa powder daily and found that their blood pressure dropped when compared to a control group. The cocoa inhibits an enzyme in the body that is known to raise blood pressure. Other studies have shown that cocoa has a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases.
Dark Chocolate is The New Black Super Fruit
Let’s face it; we are obsessed with super foods – the ones that give you the best bang for your buck when it comes to health. Good news then … research published in Chemistry Central Journal found that chocolate (cocoa in particular) has more is a better source of antioxidants than fruit juice – and, as a bonus it doesn’t boost your blood sugar like the latter does. Scientists compared the antioxidant activity in cocoa powder and fruit powders they found that, gram per gram, there was more antioxidant capacity, and greater total flavanol content, in the cocoa powder. However you won’t get the same benefits from hot chocolate, unless you make it homemade with cocoa powder, hot water, a touch of cream and stevia – and skip the sugar.
The Skinny On Coffee
Having a caffeinated drink pre workout, providing it’s not late in the day, can increase your endurance and boost your fat burning potential according to various research. Caffeine is thought to delay the onset of muscle fatigue by helping your body use its own fat reserves as energy instead, and sparing yoru glycogen reserves (which is your stored up energy). The longer your glycogen lasts, the longer you can push it in the gym. One study even found that caffeine can positively impact your DNA and mimic the muscle contraction that comes with exercise, so gym-goers who enjoy a pre-workout cup may just be on to something. As an added bonus, it has been shown to reduce pain processing, which can help you get that last set of lunges in.
Cup of Java Decreases Diabetes Risk
Your morning java may not only get you up and going, but studies reveal that it can be protective against type 2 diabetes. A protein called sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) regulates the biological activity of testosterone and estrogen, which have long been thought to play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. And coffee consumption, it turns out, increases plasma levels of SHBG. It is also thought that coffee may improve the body’s tolerance to glucose by increasing metabolism or improving sensitivity to insulin. Opt for an organic, fair-trade coffee and be sure to brew it with non-chlorinated filters.
When in doubt, cuddle for longevity
It’s true. A study released by The Kinsey Institute of Indiana indicated that men enjoy cuddling and hugging more than woman. The 1,009 couples surveyed were middle-aged or older and have been in their relationship for 25 or more years. According to the researchers, men feel most fulfilled when they are in long-term relationships and that cuddling and kissing increases men’s happiness. Moreover, happiness is directly related to increases in life expectancy and improved health. However if your partner opts for sleep over cuddling, it’s not a bad thing either. According to a recent study at the University of Michigan and Albright College in Pennsylvania, the tendency to fall asleep first after sex is associated with greater partner desire for bonding and affection. Either way, it’s a great argument to get in close with someone this Valentine’s Day.