Dark choco­late: a boost for ath­letes’ per­for­mance?

Pakistan Observer - - KARACHI CITY - STAFF RE­PORTER

TOO sporty to in­dulge in choco­late? Think again, says re­search pub­lished in The Jour­nal of the In­ter­na­tional So­ci­ety of Sports Nu­tri­tion. The find­ings sug­gest that a lit­tle dark choco­late may im­prove per­for­mance in fit­ness train­ing. Beet­root juice is pop­u­lar among elite ath­letes as a tool for en­hanc­ing per­for­mance, due to its high ni­trate con­tent.

The ni­trates in beet­root juice are con­verted to ni­tric ox­ide in the body, caus­ing blood ves­sels to di­late and re­duc­ing oxy­gen con­sump­tion, help­ing ath­letes to main­tain their pace for longer. The Mayo Clinic point out that choco­late and co­coa may play a role in re­duc­ing the risk of heart dis­ease.

The fla­vanols present in co­coa beans have an­tiox­i­dant ef­fects that re­duce the cell dam­age in­volved in heart dis­ease. They can also help to lower blood pres­sure and im­prove vas­cu­lar func­tion. How­ever, Mayo Clinic warn that not all the ben­e­fits of choco­late have been con­firmed. Choco­late should be con­sumed in mod­er­a­tion, they say, be­cause the added fats and sug­ars can lead to weight gain and other health prob­lems.

One of the fla­vanols in the co­coa bean and in dark choco­late is epi­cat­e­chin. Epi­cat­e­chin in­creases the pro­duc­tion of ni­tric ox­ide in the body. Post­grad­u­ate re­search stu­dent Rishikesh Kankesh Pa­tel, from Kingston Univer­sity in Lon­don, UK, wanted to know whether dark choco­late could pro­vide sim­i­lar ben­e­fits to beet­root.

Pa­tel in­vited nine am­a­teur cy­clists to par- tic­i­pate in a study that was su­per­vised by sports science field leader Dr. Owen Spen­diff and se­nior lec­turer in sports analysis James Brouner. The cy­clists un­der­went ini­tial fit­ness tests to pro­vide a base­line for com­par­i­son, and then they were put into two groups.

All the par­tic­i­pants swapped one of their daily snacks for 1.5 ounces of choco­late for 2 weeks. One group con­sumed a dark choco­late that was rich in fla­vanols, and the other group had white choco­late. Af­ter 2 weeks, the cy­clists per­formed a se­ries of cy­cling ex­er­cise tests, in­clud­ing mod­er­ate ex­er­cise and time tri­als, in Kingston’s sports per­for­mance lab­o­ra­tory. The re­searchers mea­sured their heart rates and oxy­gen con­sump­tion lev­els.

The par­tic­i­pants then took a break for a week, be­fore switch­ing choco­late types and re­peat­ing the 2-week trial and ex­er­cise tests. Af­ter eat­ing dark choco­late, the rid­ers used less oxy­gen when cy­cling at a mod­er­ate pace. They also cy­cled fur­ther in a 2-minute flat-out time trial.

Pa­tel com­ments: “Both dark choco­late and beet­root juice are known to in­crease ni­tric ox­ide, which is the ma­jor mech­a­nism we be­lieve is be­hind these re­sults. We found that peo­ple could ef­fec­tively ex­er­cise for longer af­ter eat­ing dark choco­late, some­thing that’s not been estab­lished be­fore in this way.” Pa­tel, who com­pleted the study as part of his un­der­grad­u­ate sport science de­gree at Kingston Univer­sity, is now in­ves­ti­gat­ing dark choco­late as part of his doc­toral the­sis. KARACHI—Be­ing a United Na­tions flag­ship event, World En­vi­ron­ment Day is cel­e­brated in­ter­na­tion­ally on 5 June each year. The pur­pose of cel­e­brat­ing World En­vi­ron­ment Day is to bring world­wide fo­cus on im­por­tance of en­vi­ron­ment and stim­u­late po­lit­i­cal at­ten­tion and ac­tions for im­prov­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.

This year theme of World En­vi­ron­ment Day is “Go Wild for the Life” The aim of this theme is to fight against the il­le­gal trade of wildlife and to pro­tect the threat­ened species like ele­phants, rhi­nos, tigers, hump­back whales and tur­tles.

Ad­di­tion­ally, World Oceans Day is cel­e­brated glob­ally on 8 June each year to make the masses re­al­ize the im­por­tance of oceans, ma­rine re­sources and to save oceans from over ex­ploita­tion and pol­lu­tion. Theme se­lected this year to pro­mote the spirit of the day is “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet”.

Oceans are an es­sen­tial com­po­nent of the Earth’s ecosys­tem and healthy oceans are crit­i­cal to sus­tain a healthy planet. Pak­istan Navy be­ing an en­vi­ron­ment

photo con­scious ser­vice cel­e­brates both the in­ter­na­tional events reg­u­larly to pro­mote the im­por­tance of en­vi­ron­ment and oceans.

This year PN cel­e­brated both the events on 3 June 2016, prior com­mence­ment of the holy month of RAMZAN. In or­der to stim­u­late aware­ness of en­vi­ron­ment and oceans among pub­lic and con­cerned agen­cies and de­part­ments, a num­ber of ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing har­bour and beach clean­ing cam­paigns, sem­i­nars, lec­tures on sig­nif­i­cance of the two events, var­i­ous com­pe­ti­tions and quizzes at PN ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tutes in­volv­ing PN as well as lo­cal pop­u­lace and a car­ni­val at Pak­istan Mar­itime Mu­seum, Karachi were con­ducted with vigour and fer­vor Chief of the Naval Staff in his mes­sage reaf­firmed Pak­istan Navy’s com­mit­ment to make ev­ery ef­fort to pro­tect our oceans from var­i­ous types of threats and for bet­ter­ment of our en­vi­ron­ment, es­pe­cially the ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment.

He em­pha­sized that Pak­istan Navy will play its due role in the global ef­forts to pro­tect and pre­serve the oceans and en­vi­ron­ment for our fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

Pak­istan Navy of­fi­cials plant­ing saplings to mark the World En­vi­ron­ment Day.—PO

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