Tag Archives: nutrition

Lose Weight By Eating CHOCOLATE!

Image from: http://healthmeup.com/

It would be a dream come true for anyone in the western world to eat what they want and look good doing it. We are constantly reminded of this dream of a diet-free life that guarantees our good looks on a regular basis by internet advertisements, infomercials, and magazines. Some recent discoveries, however, have ensured that the chocolate lovers of our world can live the dream.

Eat chocolate and you’ll lose weight! Incredible, right? Dark chocolate, despite being seen more as an indulgence than a weight-loss strategy, is full of many natural benefits. Primarily, it is full of antioxidants, which boost cellular metabolism, thus burning more energy while at rest. A 2012 study done at the University of California highlights this effect in the following CNN report.

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Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVTeHwOWksA

In addition to its metabolic benefits, dark chocolate also helps the body manage sugar spikes by significantly reducing insulin sensitivity. Increases in insulin sensitivity means that the hormone insulin no longer functions as well as it should. As a result, muscle and fat cells will be less effective at using sugar, resulting in weight gain, and eventually Type 2 diabetes. A 2005 study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition goes into greater depth with regards to chocolate’s effects on insulin resistance.

Image from: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/

So next time you feel the urge to have a sweet snack or a bit of dessert after a meal, don’t feel the need to resist. You may be doing yourself worlds of good by satisfying your chocolate crave! Despite its benefits however, the benefits only exist in moderation. Chocolate is not a miracle weight-loss drug, but its addition into a healthy diet and a bit of exercise can greatly improve your chances of fitting into those new skinny jeans for the summer!

By: Kia Sanjabi


  1. Fetters, A. (2014). Can eating chocolate help you lose weight? Retrieved 03/17, 2014, from http://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/chocolate-weight-loss#.
  2. Grassi, D., Lippi, C., Necozione, S., Desideri, G., & Ferri, C. (2005). Short-term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 81(3), 611-614.

Multivitamins: Helpful, harmful, or just harmless?

Although the idea of vitamins (initially “vitamine” from “vital amine”* (1)) was conceived in the early 1900s, it wasn’t until the 1930s that scientists discovered that they could be artificially synthesised (2). Twenty years later, multivitamins and multimineral complexes (called MVMMs) would be widely consumed based on the belief that they were beneficial for one’s health (3).

Nowadays almost everyone takes MVMMs, and the nutraceutical market has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry. Despite their popularity, MVMMs have received a significant amount of flak in the past year due to the documented inefficacy in healthy individuals. There are several research papers documenting MVMMs ineffectiveness, and some recent findings indicate that MVMMs can be harmful (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).

It’s not unexpected that high doses of some vitamins are harmful; after all, “the dose makes the poison” and anything – including water – in a high enough dose can kill. However it is unexpected that taking moderate doses of certain vitamins can be harmful. Some ingredients in MVMMs that can harm more than help are vitamin A, folic acid, iron with vitamin D, and possibly vitamin D.

The negative effects of beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A) on smokers has been known for two decades, and gave scientists the first inkling that vitamin supplements could be harmful. There is a well-established correlation in the scientific literature between beta-carotene supplementation (by smokers) and lung cancer (12). Most non-smokers ignore this, but this finding was only the beginning.

Folic acid, the synthesised form of B9, is well-known by women who are trying to conceive or pregnant. After the finding in 1964 that folic acid supplementation reduced neural tube defects, the pill became widely prescribed to pregnant women (and mandatorily added to food) (13, 14, 15).

Despite its supposed benefit, an increased susceptibility to multiple cancers has been associated with folic acid in recent years. Excessive folic acid – especially when it is unmetabolised, as happens often with synthetic B9 – can stimulate tumour growth (16, 17, 18, 19, 20). Some researchers chalk this up to folic acid being inherently different from the naturally occurring form in food, tetrahydrofolate.  The research is still unclear, but it’s probably a good idea to avoid MVMMs with folic acid (unless you’re pregnant).

Regular doses of vitamin D have recently been correlated with increasing the severity of cardiovascular disease (21, 22, 23). The proposed mechanism involves   vitamin D increasing calcium levels (which can contribute to plaque calcification) (24). (Excess can build up after taking a low dose of vitamin D over the long term**.)

Perhaps the most surprising finding on the harmfulness of some vitamins was on vitamin C and iron. Vitamin C is believed to increase the absorption and uptake of iron in the gastrointestinal tract, so many doctors will advise iron deficient patients to take a hefty dose of vitamin C alongside iron supplements. Apparently, this has been linked to a drastic increase in risk of cancers in the GI tract (25, 26, 27).

If you’re a relatively healthy individual, it’s best to avoid supplementation of a number of vitamins and/or minerals. Some people consider MVMMs “health insurance”, although there is clearly a dark side to some complexes.

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(Don’t take MVMMs; if you’re going to supplement, it should be targeted.)

*The “e” on “vitamine” was dropped when scientists realised that not all vitamins contain amines.

**The “long term” is apparently “three months or more”.

– Jennifer Labrie