Archive for February, 2011

Did you know lowering your thermostat may reduce not only your spending, but also your weight?

Researchers suspect that rising indoor temperatures in American homes may have contributed to the obesity epidemic. The theory is that we burn fewer calories when our bodies don’t have to work as hard to stay warm, according to a report.  Bedrooms in the U.S. were heated to an average of 66.7 degrees in the late 1980s, versus 68.4 degrees in 2005. Studies have shown that slightly chillier temperatures can lead to increased energy expenditures even when people bundle up. Increased time spent indoors, widespread access to central heating and air conditioning, and increased expectations of thermal comfort all contribute to restricting the range of temperatures we experience in daily life and reduce the time our bodies spend under mild thermal stress, meaning we’re burning less energy. 

So, the next time your spouse kicks off the blankets maybe they’re trying to give you a hint.


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The way to a woman’s (healthy) heart: Valentine’s Day chocolates

There’s nothing I love more on Valentine’s Day than getting flowers and chocolates.  In years past, I viewed the chocolates as an enemy…..a tasty, tasty enemy.  I love chocolate.  If it’s around, I’ll eat it and it’s so bad for you!!! Or, so I thought….

Then I happened to come across some articles talking about the health benefits of chocolate.  What?! Chocolate has health benefits? Sounds good to me! 

It turns out that there are flavanoids in chocolate which act as antioxidants.  Studies have shown that chocolate can lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and improve blood flow to the brain and heart.  On top of that, it stimulates endorphin production giving you feelings of pleasure, can act as an antidepressant because it contains serotonin, and can give you a small energy boost from caffeine.

It all sounds fabulous so far and there’s still more! Only 1/3 of the fat in chocolate is bad for you.  Another 1/3 is actually a healthy variety that is also found in olive oil and the final 1/3 research shows has a neutral effect on cholesterol levels.

Here comes the catch.  (I suppose everything that sounds too good to be true usually is.) Most of these benefits apply to dark chocolate.  The less processed the cocoa, the better.  That means, highly processed chocolates like milk or white don’t contain the high amounts of flavanols that are good for you.  This doesn’t mean that you can run out and eat a 5 pound brick of dark chocolate, either.  Small amounts on occasion are best.  Odds are the more chocolate you eat, the more healthy calories you’re replacing.

So, this year when you get that box of chocolates, thank the person who gave it to you for being so conscious of your health!


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