For chocolate's true benefits, it's time to ditch the foil and get 'real'

The well-publicised health benefits of dark chocolate have given many chocolate lovers an added reason to indulge in recent years.

Sales have doubled in the past five years and are worth £85 million a year in Britain alone. Conveniently forgotten, however, is the fact that a bar of dark chocolate still contains high volumes of fat and sugar. So how do you enjoy the health benefits of cocoa without the worry of an expanding waistline?

Raw-food expert and nutritionist Jessica Fenton says the answer lies in the unadulterated beans of the cacao pod. This, she says, is the real superfood, and it is quite different from its foil-wrapped relative.

Cacao pods, which grow on trees, originated in Central and South America. Ancient South American civilisations prized them so much for their medicinal and aphrodisiacal properties, they even used them as currency.

Source - Daily Mail

Mum's stress is passed to baby in the womb

A mother's stress can spread to her baby in the womb and may cause a lasting effect, German researchers propose.

They have seen that a receptor for stress hormones appears to undergo a biological change in the unborn child if the mother is highly stressed, for example, because of a violent partner. And this change may leave the child less able to handle stress themselves. It has already been linked to mental illness and behavioural problems.

The findings, published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, are based on a small study of 25 women and their children, now aged between 10 and 19. And the researchers point out that the women involved in the study had exceptional home circumstances and that most pregnant women would not be exposed to such levels of stress day in and day out.

Furthermore, the researchers say the findings are not conclusive - many other factors, including the child's social environment while growing up, might be involved.

Source - BBC

The 'super tomatoes' fortified with minerals that combat cancer

It is the perfect excuse to have that last piece of pizza.

‘Super tomatoes’ fortified with minerals have just hit shelves across the UK.

Ordinary tomatoes – which are already viewed as one of the superfoods – have been enriched with selenium, a powerful anti-oxidant that boosts the immune system and may prevent cancer.

The mineral, found naturally in foods such as Brazil nuts, shellfish and liver, is also important for the thyroid gland, which determines how quickly the body uses energy and also produces proteins.

Source - Daily Mail

Could tea and coffee protect against MRSA?

People who regularly drink tea or coffee may be less likely to be carriers of the 'superbug' MRSA, according to a U.S. study.

Out of more than 5,500 Americans who took part in a government study published in the Annals of Family Medicine, those who drank hot tea or coffee were about half as likely as non-drinkers to contract methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in their nostrils.

But exactly what the information means is still unclear, say researchers.

'Hot tea and coffee have been found to have antimicrobial properties,' wrote lead researcher Eric Matheson, of the University of South Carolina, Charleston. 'Consumption of hot tea or coffee is associated with a lower likelihood of MRSA nasal carriage.

In general, about 1 percent of the U.S. population carries MRSA in the nose or on the skin, but does not get sick.

Source - Daily Mail

Diesel fume particles 'could raise heart attack risks'

Chemical particles in diesel exhaust fumes could increase the risk of heart attacks, new research has suggested.

Edinburgh University scientists found minuscule particles produced by burning diesel can increase the chance of blood clots forming in arteries. The blood clots can then lead to heart attacks or stroke.

The team measured the impact of diesel exhaust fumes on a group of healthy volunteers at levels found in heavily polluted cities. The volunteers' reaction to gases found in diesel fumes, such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, were compared with their reactions to tiny chemical particles found in the exhausts.

It was found that the particles, and not the gases, impaired the function of blood vessels.

Source - BBC

Your mother was right: Standing up straight IS good for you

For generations mothers have admonished children who hunch over the dinner table to 'sit up straight.'

Now scientists have found lengthening the spine and pushing the shoulders back can have a real medical benefit. Poor posture not only makes a bad impression, it can actually make you physically weaker as well.

Adopting a 'dominant' posture rather than a 'submissive' one decreases a person's sensitivity to pain, researchers from the USC Marshall School of Business and the University of Toronto found.

The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, found that by simply adopting more dominant poses, people feel more powerful, in control and able to tolerate more distress.

Source - Daily Mail

Grapefruits were a diet dream that turned sour... but are they set for a sweet comeback?

It was a staple of the 1970s breakfast table and the basis of countless diets.

But then the British love affair with the grapefruit turned a little sour. Sales of the fruit have been declining - last year they dropped 3.6 per cent to 27,492 tonnes, according to the latest industry figures.

Now, however, grapefruit growers are fighting back. They have launched a campaign claiming the fruit can make you feel more energetic and attractive, and they are encouraging us to eat one per day to boost well-being.

A report by the Citrus Growers’ Association of South Africa has attributed the fall in sales to the bitter taste of white grapefruit and consumers’ unwillingness to add sugar in the large quantities that we used to. The association’s campaign highlights the fact that many modern varieties are much less bitter. ‘Try red and pink varieties – there is no need to add sugar,’ say the growers.

Source - Daily Mail

Magnets easing pain.

No matter how many high-tech cures modern medicine brings us, alternative evangelists will always argue loudly that the true secrets of well-being lie in esoteric notions such as ‘healing frequencies’, magnets and astrological alignments.

The latest example of this is a book by Matthew Silverstone, a successful London businessman. He became fascinated by alternative medicine after seeing his 19-year-old son recover from a bout of chronic fatigue syndrome so severe that he did not even have the energy to talk to people.

Despite being a tough-minded businessman, Silverstone believes the cure was brought about by an alternative healer who recommended therapies such as feeling the energy given off by trees.In the book, Blinded By Science, Silverstone claims to have discovered that the key to all health problems lies in the fact that ‘everything vibrates — absolutely everything, from the nucleus of an atom to the molecules of our blood, our organs, our brain, light, sound, plants, animals, Earth, space, the universe’.

Source - Daily Mail

Advice to drink more water dismissed as harmful nonsense

The benefits of drinking water have become so exaggerated that people who follow official advice may even do themselves harm, a doctor warns.

Bottles of mineral water are now so ubiquitous that health-conscious people cannot make even a short journey without one. Yet the warnings about maintaining fluid levels are "not only nonsense, but thoroughly debunked nonsense", Margaret McCartney, a general practitioner in Glasgow, said.

Official advice issued by the NHS says that people should "try to drink about six to eight glasses of water (or other fluids) a day to prevent dehydration". Many schools also require pupils to bring a water bottle to school. But Dr McCartney said there is no high-quality evidence to support these claims, which are repeated by bottled-water companies to boost their sales.

The idea that we are all short of water is thought to derive from a 1945 recommendation that adults should consume 2.5l of water daily, 1ml for every calorie consumed, though this advice has only caught on in the last decade. But the crucial part of the recommendation is usually ignored – that "most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods".

Source - Independent

Broccoli could be key to the treatment of pancreatic cancer

Vitamin A, found in everyday veg such as broccoli and carrots, could treat pancreatic cancer.

The disease, which killed actor Patrick Swayze in 2009, takes 7,500 British lives a year. But researchers found that injecting vitamin A into healthy cells surrounding the cancer helped to combat it.

Dr Hemant Kocher, of Barts and The London NHS Trust, said: “We found that paying attention to the non-cancerous tissue surrounding the cancer is as important as focusing on the cancer. It’s a significant milestone in the battle against this disease.”

Source - Daily Mirror

Mobile phones 'unlikely' to cause cancer

Mounting evidence suggests there is no link between mobile phones and brain cancer, according to a review by the Institute of Cancer Research.

It stated that despite near universal mobile phone use, there had been no jump in the number of tumours. Its report, in Environmental Health Perspectives, also identified flaws in many studies investigating a link.

A few weeks ago the World Health Organization said mobiles were "possibly carcinogenic".

The decision by the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) put mobile phones in the same category as coffee, in which a link could not be ruled out, but it could not be proved either.

Source - BBC

Beetroot juice could keep athletes at the top of their game by boosting stamina

Beetroot juice could help athletes beat the best.

The brightly-coloured juice gives cyclists such a boost that they can Linkshave vital seconds off their time, Exeter University research shows.

The benefits of beetroot juice don’t end there, with previous studies from the university crediting it with increasing stamina. Lowering blood pressure, warding off dementia, and even giving pensioners the extra energy they need to make a trip to the shops, could all also be in its power.

While the list of benefits may seem remarkable, scientists say the can be explained by the abundance of nitrite in the veg.

Source - Daily Mail