Chocolate and heart attacks, metabolic syndrome, firmicutes, aerobics, chocolate milk

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A column by Mike Furci that brings you research, trends and other info to help you with your fitness, health and nutritional needs.

...a little chocolate each day keeps heart attacks away? Researchers at the University of Johns Hopkins found, by accident, why chocolate cuts the risk of heart attack. Like aspirin, chocolate contains a substance that reduces platelet clumping, which can form clots and block blood vessels. This doesn’t mean you should start eating large amounts of chocolate. Remember, chocolate contains a high amount of fat and sugar. (

…that metabolic syndrome, which was previously almost exclusively an adult problem, is now being diagnosed among adolescents with increasing prevalence? A study conducted at the Center for Childhood Obesity Research at Penn State University assessed 154 girls at 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 years of age. The girls were grouped according to the values of six metabolic syndrome factors: blood pressure, high-density lipoprotein, triglycerides, waist circumference and blood glucose. The girls who were at the highest risk for metabolic syndrome consumed the most sugary beverages between the ages of 5 and 9. This group also had the highest body fat percentage and had significantly greater increases in weight. Stop allowing yourself, and more importantly, your kids to consume sugary beverages. (

…there are different types of bacteria in the intestines of obese people than there are in normal size people? Approximately two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, according to the CDC, with no end in site. Two studies, one on mice and one on humans, found a family of bacteria that were more prevalent in the obese than in lean individuals. Obese people are more efficient at taking calories from carbohydrates and depositing those calories as fat. Researchers speculate this is due to the family of bacteria known as firmicutes. When researchers gave thin mice firmicutes they gained twice as much weight as the mice who didn’t receive them. (

…there is a difference in results when performing aerobics before or after your workout? Ten male subjects trained using three types of exercise regimens on separate days: 1) endurance exercise only; 2) endurance exercise performed after resistance exercise and 20-minute rest; and 3) endurance exercise performed after resistance exercise and 120-minute rest. Measures of blood lactate, hormone and free fatty acid levels suggest that lipolysis and fat oxidation during endurance exercise are enhanced by prior resistance exercise. In other words, weight train before aerobics if you want the biggest bang for your buck. (Med Sci Sports Exer. 2006:38(5),S545)

…chocolate milk is a good sports drink? Joel Stager, a professor at Indiana University Bloomington, found that chocolate milk is better than most sports drinks for athletes who wish to recover shortly after a rigorous practice. He compared chocolate milk to a Gatorade-like drink and a carbohydrate replacement drink and concluded chocolate milk may be particularly helpful to athletes who must endure long, intense, or multiple practices. (

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