Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chocolate Might Help You Lower Your Cholesterol!

Who does not like chocolate? People, especially ladies, tend to eat more chocolate when they were in bad mood. But many reports had linked eating chocolate to weight gain that might lead to many medical disorders including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

In a paper published on May 26, 2010 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College in Beijing argued that eating chocolate could help reduce the cholesterol levels. Their theory, however, only applied to people already had risk factors for heart disease and who consumed in modest amounts.

After analyzing 8 trials involving 215 people, they found that eating cocoa would reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol by about 6 mg/dL and cut the total cholesterol by the same amount. Further analysis showed that only people who ate small amounts of cocoa (an amount containing 260 milligrams of polyphenols or less) had their cholesterol levels lowered, and no effect was shown in people who ate more.

Polyphenols are antioxidant compounds found in fruits, vegetables, chocolate and red wine. A 1.25-ounce bar of milk chocolate contains about 300 milligrams of polyphenols.

While healthy people did not benefit from consuming cocoa, people with heart disease risk factors like diabetes had their LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol level reduced by around 8 mg/dL each.

However, researchers suggested more rigorous randomized trials with longer follow-up should be carried out in future research so as to resolve the uncertainty about the clinical effectiveness.

In fact, several studies suggesting that chocolate might be good for the health had been conducted before. A study on 19,300 people, which was released in March 2010, suggested that people who consumed the most chocolate had lower blood pressure and were less likely to suffer stroke or heart attach over the next 10 years.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Is Video Game Really Bad For Children?

Video game, together with other screen-based entertainments like TV and DVD watching, as well as leisure time computer use, has long been accused as one of the culprits that cause children obesity.

Does this mean that children should be totally banned from playing video games? Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine might have a different perspective, as they believed video games could be used to encourage kids to eat healthier foods.

Their study, which was conducted in the United States, found that children who played certain video games increased the amount of fruit and vegetables they ate each day by around one serving. In the United States, nearly one in five 6- to 19-year-olds is obese. The findings were published on December 7, 2010 in the ‘American Journal of Preventive Medicine’.

The 2 video games used in the study were "Escape from Diab” and “Nanoswarm" designed by Archimage to change diet and physical activity behaviors to reduce the risk of becoming obese and diabetic. Archimage is a Houston-based visual arts studio using its experience in computer-based architecture to specialize in serious video game development for the medial research community.

“Escape from Diab” and “Nanoswarm” were designed as epic video game adventures that are comparable to commercial quality video games. A broad diversity of behavior change procedures was incorporated into the games, which can really motivate players to substantially improve diet behaviors.

Obese children are more likely to grow up to be obese adults, to suffer from many chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke and fatty liver disease, and to die prematurely of any cause, as shown by numerous studies.

The finding is definitely a useful step towards fighting childhood obesity because increasing intake of fruit and vegetables could reduce the risk of obesity.

But, researchers also pointed out that while there was increased intake of health foods, children still failed to consume the minimum daily amount of fruit and vegetables recommended by doctors. What worrying them most is that children did not get enough physical exercise. According to health professionals, children should eat 5 servings a day of fruit or vegetables and get an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise.

Though serious video games hold promise, the researchers still felt that their effectiveness and mechanisms of change among youth need to be more thoroughly investigated.