Dark chocolate: a boost for athletes’ performance?
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