If you think dark chocolate is the only guilt-free way to treat your sweet tooth, think again. In this research roundup we share good news for chocolate lovers – along with other ways to find a healthy balance.
GREAT NEWS FOR CHOCOLATE LOVERS
Eating milk chocolate every day may sound like a recipe for weight gain, but a recent study found that treating yourself with a concentrated amount of chocolate in the morning is not as naughty as it sounds. In fact, it may help the body burn fat and decrease blood sugar levels.
Researchers explored the effects of eating milk chocolate at different times of day with a group of postmenopausal women. Some consumed either 100g of chocolate within one hour of waking, some within one hour before bedtime, and some had no chocolate at all. The researchers found a daily dose of chocolate (whether it was first thing in the morning or late at night) did not lead to weight gain, even helping decrease hunger and desire for sweets. The findings suggest chocolate during the morning hours could help to burn fat and reduce blood glucose levels, while chocolate in the evening could aid next-morning metabolism.
CAN YOU SLEEP YOUR WAY TO GOOD HEALTH?
Spending more time snuggled up in bed could be key to fast-tracking health improvements. During the 2023 American Heart Association's Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions, scientists explained how individuals involved in a year-long weight loss program increased fat loss if their sleep was better.
The researchers found that better sleep health was associated with higher rates of attendance at group workouts, longer workouts, stronger adherence to caloric intake goals, and more time spent doing moderate-vigorous physical activity. It’s important to note that the benefits of good sleep extend beyond weight loss. In 2022 sufficient sleep was added as the eighth component of optimal cardiovascular health (cardiovascular disease now claims more lives each year in the United States than all forms of cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease combined). The other necessities for optimal cardiovascular health are eating healthy food, being physically active, not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and controlling cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
There is plenty of evidence that exercise helps improve sleep – and experts have found yoga and stretching in the evening are particularly beneficial.