Education, Exercise and Chocolate – all for your health

by DavalosMcCormack on October 23, 2008

Is your blood pressure too high? Eat a chocolate brownie. Do you want to reduce your risk of heart disease? Break out the Sees candies. Two new studies in two highly regarded medical journals are the sweetest news to chocolate lovers in years.

The studies, in the Journal of the American Medical Association and Nature, both show that dark chocolate has distinctly healthy properties. In JAMA the researchers found that dark chocolate can help reduce high blood pressure, if you are over 55 and have slightly elevated blood pressure to begin with.

In Nature the researchers say that dark chocolate’s rich anti-oxidant properties can help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Now the findings only apply to dark chocolate. No similar benefits were found in milk or white chocolate.  And the benefits only apply to limited amounts of the dark stuff Рno shoveling a pound of bon bons into your mouth in the name of health. In fact, the studies say you should consume only around 100 grams per day, which is just under a quarter of a pound. Even then you have to balance the more than 500 calories in the chocolate by cutting out something else.

Education Protects Against Memory Loss 

If you went to college you’re going to love this next piece. People with more education and more mentally demanding jobs are at less risk for the kind of memory loss that precedes Alzheimer’s than less well educated people who have less demanding jobs.

The study, in Neurology, followed 242 people with Alzheimer’s, 72 people with mild memory and cognitive problems, and 144 people with no memory problems.

The researchers tested the participants memory and did brain scans to see how the brain was functioning. They checked in on the folks for an average of 14 months. By the end of the study 21 of the people with mild cognitive problems had gone on to develop Alzheimer’s.

The study found that people with more education and more intellectually challenging jobs seemed to have some protection against that early memory loss and cognitive problems that could eventually lead to Alzheimer’s.

One more reason why it’s never too late to go back to school, or just keep learning new things all the time.

Can Exercise Prevent a Stroke?

It’s no secret that Shirley and I are firm believers in the health benefits of exercise. Both mental and physical. Now a new study shows that people who are physically active may have less severe problems and recover faster after a stroke than people who lead sedentary lives.

The study, in Neurology, found that people who were most active were two and a half times more likely to suffer a less severe stroke compared to the least active folks.

So if you want to save your brain, move your.. er.. legs.

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