6. Dark Chocolate Can Lower Your Blood Pressure
Another benefit of chocolate's amazing medicinal profile—it can lower your blood pressure. Chocolate can be a cheaper and more enjoyable way of lowering blood pressure than medical options.
A recent study done at Harvard looked at 24 studies done on chocolate in the past. More than 1,000 people were involved in these studies which collectively concluded that dark chocolate—between 50 and 70 percent cocoa—lowered the blood pressure of all participants.
The benefits were greater in those who already suffered from hypertension. This suggests that the flavonols responsible are more effective when blood pressure is high.
While fruit, vegetables and tea are known sources of antioxidants, research shows that the cocoa bean is more potent, with one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants and beneficial nutrients in the world.
7. Dark Chocolate Can Help Control Your Cough
One of the chemicals in cocoa, theobromine, is known to antagonize the activity of the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a part of your brain and its activation can trigger coughing fits. Scientists are looking into creating medication for coughs that uses theobromine.
A study on chocolate's effects as a cough-suppressant found it to be more effective than common cold medicines, even ones containing codeine, a weak narcotic.
They tested this by giving subjects different cough medicines. One group received common cough medicine with codeine; the second group received a solution of theobromine and the third group was placebo. They were exposed to capsaicin (the chemical responsible for making chili peppers spicy). Their intention was to see how much capsaicin was required to induce five coughs. Having one's lungs exposed to capsaicin will usually cause even the most hardened chili-head to break into a coughing fit.
The group with theobromine required about a third more capsaicin to cough five times. There was no difference between codeine and the placebo group.
8. Dark Chocolate Can Help in Pregnancy
Recent studies have shown that chocolate improves fetal growth. Some mothers may be at risk for preeclampsia, when the blood supply to the fetus is cut off or restricted. This occurs due to high blood pressure, which is natural during pregnancy.
A study shows that regular chocolate consumption can reduce the risk of preeclampsia by lowering blood pressure.
It is undetermined which compounds in chocolate are responsible for this effect. The study's two groups consumed high- and low-flavonol chocolate. Both saw significant improvements in blood flow to the fetus. This suggests that chocolate's benefits may extend beyond its flavonol content.
9. Dark Chocolate Can Improve Brain Function
Only lately has chocolate been studied for its benefits to human cognition.
This study delves into the cognitive benefits of chocolate consumption. High intake of high-quality chocolate enabled improvements of cognitive processing, visual-spatial awareness, abstract reasoning, scanning, working memory and improved Global Composite scores.
An ongoing 40-year study on the effects of chocolate on cognitive function was recently finished. The study used data from the beginning of the study and compared it through cross-sectional study. This might not mean that chocolate makes people smarter—perhaps smart people happen to eat chocolate. Regardless, the study also concluded that all the types of intelligence measured previously were increased by chocolate consumption—along with spoken word recall.
A study done by British psychologists shows that the flavonols in chocolate specifically help people with their mental math. During the study, people were tested counting backward on a randomly generated number test before and after drinking a cup of hot cocoa. This means gorging on chocolate before your exam could be a good idea.
10. Dark Chocolate is a Huge Source of Antioxidants
Dark chocolate contains very high amounts of a number of potent antioxidants. A study linked calculated the Relative Antioxidant Capacity Index (RACI) by isolating free radicals and antioxidants extracted from chocolate. Free radicals are the prerequisite for cancer and antioxidants can help destroy free radicals before they spread.
The two opposing extracts were essentially left in vivo (outside of the human body) to battle each other. The resulting statistics show that chocolate's antioxidants (at least, in vivo) are extremely effective at reducing free radicals. While they may behave differently in the body, relevant studies also show that chocolate is effective at battling free radicals in vitro.
Chocolate has a huge number of biologically active compounds with antioxidant activity. It's filled with polyphenols, flavonols and catechins and even theobromine (the compound touted to have antidepressant effects) acts as an antioxidant.
11. Dark Chocolate Can Protect Your Skin From the Sun
Dark chocolate has been known to prevent damage from ultraviolet rays, the light emitted by the sun.
The most effective way to reap this effect would be to eat straight cocoa beans. These are often available at health food stores.
If you can't use raw cocoa, high-quality dark chocolate will still suffice. The flavonols in 85 percent dark chocolate are still present enough to have an effect.
One study measured the minimal erythema dose, a measure that shows how much exposure will begin to negatively affect skin. A high MED is good because it means you need to be exposed to more UV light to take damage.
MED rose dramatically for the study group consuming cocoa rich in flavonols for a few weeks. The group that didn't consume any, or consumed chocolate lower in flavonols, showed no change.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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