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The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

At some point, you’ve probably heard that a little bit of chocolate each day can be good for you, and maybe you’ve already searched for some answers as to why. There might be one or two things you didn’t figure out. First of all, you should know that a little bit means just that: a little bit. Anything can be bad in excess, even though a lot of the things we like can be good for us in moderation. You can eat one or two ounces of dark chocolate, and that’s enough to reap the rewards.

Second, you need to know what constitutes “dark” chocolate. You’ll want to try to find something with at least seventy percent cocoa in it, and the more the better. The bigger the percentage, the less sweet the chocolate will taste. Some people like the bitter taste of extra dark chocolate, but it isn’t for everyone.

These are a few of the health benefits you can enjoy from a moderate daily helping of dark chocolate!

It contains high quantities of minerals that your body needs. These include: magnesium, copper, iron, manganese, potassium, zinc, selenium, and phosphorous. The chocolate does contain caffeine and theobromine, but only in small amounts that won’t affect your sleeping cycles.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the dangers of free radicals wandering around in your body. Essentially, free radicals are atoms that require electrons for pairing. While they look for the electrons they need, they can inhibit your DNA from carrying out coded procedures. Your cells die off as a result. To prevent this from happening, your body uses antioxidants to get in the way of any free radical chain reactions that could lead to a lot of damage to your cellular unction. It turns out that dark chocolate may have an even higher number of antioxidants than other “superfoods” like many different kinds of berries, thereby preventing free radicals from harming you.

Dark chocolate can also lower blood pressure, increase HDL (the good kind of cholesterol), and slash your risk of heart disease. In one study of 470 men lasting fifteen years, cardiovascular death was reduced by fifty percent in those who consumed cocoa. Other studies showed that cocoa can likely clean arteries of calcified plaque when consumed several times a week. On top of all this, it can help protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun.

That reduction in blood pressure and slashed risk of heart disease has another important take away: your brain will get more blood. Because of this, the elderly can expect to experience increased mental function.

Although a lot of the research into dark chocolate consumption over an extended period of time requires more time and complementary studies to ensure accuracy, we do know that there are a number of definitive benefits to eating a moderate amount of dark chocolate several times a week at the least. Just be sure not to overdo it–the high amount of sugar in any kind of chocolate can do a lot of damage if too much is consumed.

What Are Endorphins?


That one word has become a catch word in most lifestyle, physical and mental health and being successful in life.

Whether it’s having a balance between work and family, or a balance between vegetables and desserts, or a balance between feeling good or feeling bad, we are always looking to find that balance. Anything that is imbalanced is considered a disorder of some kind. And the unfortunate thing is that we often try to correct the balance with some kind of drug or treatment, instead of actually changing some part of our lifestyle in order to achieve that balance.

Depression is an imbalance between happy and sad feelings; obesity is an imbalance of weight which may be an imbalance of food consumption or an imbalance of exercise (or both); being exhausted could be an imbalance between work and resting at home with family.

The human body and brain have ways to counteract these imbalances, based on conscious choice and natural chemicals produced by the body to counteract an unnatural imbalance in the system.

Endorphins are natural chemicals that provide balance of mood by counteracting sad or angry feelings. Endorphins are released naturally in times of stress of anger or sadness to help balance and give equilibrium to the human body. Depression is a disorder where not enough endorphins are produced to counteract the sad feelings.

When endorphins which are naturally released are not adequate to provide balance, some people go to professionals for treatments to increase the release of those endorphins.

Endorphins are a group of chemicals (most noteworthy of dopamine and serotonin) which are produced in various parts of the body (pituitary gland, brain, and spinal cord are most common) in reaction to negative stimuli like pain or stress. These chemicals are neurotransmitters which come in contact with certain receptors in the brain, suppressing negative emotions and pain.

When you feel pain or stress for a prolonged period of time, many professionals have suggestions to help you be in control of agitating your body into creating more endorphins – and the suggestions range from having sex to getting exercise (endorphins are credited with “runner’s high,” which is the euphoria that regular runners seem to feel when they run a distance) to eating chili peppers to just giving and receiving a lot of hugs and touches from close friends and family, can all contribute to establishing feelings of happiness or a dulling of any physical or emotional pain. Just avoid sexual harassment.

Certain endorphins have the specific task of dulling pain, while others (such as dopamine) bring out euphoric or positive feelings.  The pain-suppressing endorphins come about when there are feelings of pain, while the others come during stressful periods to keep us calm or come during times of excitement or joy to help us feel happy and positive.

Our bodies are all about balance. Endorphins are about giving us emotional and mental balance, and it is our job to take care of our bodies with balance in order to maintain that mental and emotional balance necessary for optimal health.

Can I Stop Taking Anti-Depressants?

When depression hits, we want to hit back.

Eventually, though, the anti-depressant drugs we might take to combat depression may make us think that we have depression beat and that we can handle the depression on our own. So knowing that these drugs can be highly addictive, we eventually want to feel good enough to be able to take ourselves off these drugs and live an addiction-free life.

Maybe the drugs are working well and you think the depression is beat, or maybe you think the drugs are not working, or you think they are working but the side effects are annoying you more than the relief.

But like many addictive medications like painkillers or trying to quit cigarettes, it is never a good idea to come off anti-depressants cold-turkey. While you could start taking anti-depressants in one day, you cannot usually just stop taking them in an instant. It takes an agreed-upon plan, and discussion with your doctor to ensure whether certain conditions are present in your situation to endorse a gradual reduction in the medicine.

Why a gradual reduction and not cold turkey? It has to do with the addictive nature of the drugs. Anti-depressants, in order to combat depression, make changes to the chemical composition of your brain. These changes create a “new normal” brain chemistry, and just cutting off the source of that right away can disrupt the brain chemistry and may create side effects that feel worse than the original depression.

The key to getting off antidepressants is to make sure you are not doing it alone. Working with your doctor or psychiatrist to plan a program that involves either lowering the dose gradually, cutting back the frequency of doses – or perhaps both under specific circumstances. The weaning will happen over two or three weeks, with regular monitoring by your doctor to ensure that withdrawal symptoms, depression or anxiety symptoms do not manifest.

Making the decision the get off anti-depressants does not come quickly. Usually, doctors will prescribe the medicine for anywhere from nine to 12 months at a minimum, with regular checkups with the doctor along the way.  Some conditions that might determine your readiness to begin a weaning program are:

  • The depression or anxiety is subdued. Even on anti-depressants, a professional can determine how much of your good feelings are the drugs and how much of it is actually the reduction of the depression or anxiety.
  • The depression isn’t getting any better. Anti-depressants aren’t 100-percent effective, and after a few months, your doctor can determine whether you need a different treatment. But the new treatment can’t begin until you are off the anti-depressants.
  • Side effects of the drugs are greater than the relief from depression. Two of the most common side effects are weight issues and sexual dysfunction.

Depression and anxiety can be powerful disorders, so they will often require powerful anti-depressants which have addictive qualities and can provide several side effects. It is understandable to eventually get off anti-depressants, but as your body adjusts to the drugs, it usually needs a gradual plan in order to get off the drugs and live a life free of disease and medication.

All Time Best Video Games

Video games have been part and parcel of the teen/young adult cultural experience for going on 40 years now, since the advent of the video arcade that featured games such as Pong, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man and Tempest.

Soon thereafter, the arcade started moving into the living room, as video-game consoles became all the rage with Atari, Nintendo and others through the 1980s. Then, things have evolved to unreal proportions, where video games are now immersive experiences of virtual reality and some of the commercials look like trailers for blockbuster movies.

And before, while it was just you, a quarter and the computer inside the video game, now you have an interactive experience where a person can put in a game at home and play with thousands of others from all over the world – and even communicate with them in a social-network setting.

The evolution of video games has created its own demographic – the gamer.  And gamers have been vital in developing franchises in the gamer world, as certain games became hugely popular and spawned sequels and expansions of the franchise. Here, we’ll list for you (in no particular order) five of the most enduring video-game franchises of all time. If you are even a casual gamer, chances are you’ve played one of these or at least know somebody who does.


Mario is “The Simpsons” of video games, as the little plumber man started as one of the characters on the old 1980s arcade classic, Donkey Kong. He was the one who had to jump over the barrels that the gorilla, Donkey Kong, would roll down the ramps. Mario broke away from his primate friend and spread his own wings, combining with his brother, Luigi, to create Super Mario Bros., followed by MarioKart. He’s been around for 30 years, but he doesn’t look like he’s aged a day considering he has infinite lives and never dies.


Who wants to live an alternate reality?  We’re not alking a fantasy world, but a world that is plausible and yet is not your life. Welcome to Sims, the game that has developed highly successful franchises over the last 15 years since it first launched. With Sims, you can create entire towns and people, putting it whatever houses and businesses of your choosing and even control every aspect of the lives of the people you place in that town.  You could create a “relationship” with that crush and make her fall madly for you, or you can create a bully and finally stand up to him!

Call of Duty

Perhaps one of the most famous military/war franchises around, Call of Duty was one of the first such games to reach popularity. A very realistic game will garner a lot of players and will last a long time in the gaming subculture, and CoD meets that standard with its sights and sounds. It is one of the early adopters of an immersive experience, as if a player is actually in a war zone and surrounded by mayhem, starting with a World War II motif and moving forward through several of the most prominent military actions over the last 75 years – and even into new areas we’ve never broached in real life.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Like Sims, Sonic is another cartoon-like game, with a furry little friend named Sonic who runs rampant. Originally a Sega creation, little Sonic has been a rival of Mario on Nintendo system games for a number of years. He hasn’t had his own game in years, but his supporting role with Mario has been enough for him to have a popular recurring role with many gamers.

Resident Evil

Perhaps the zombie apocalypse idea came to root here with this horror-themed franchise that has lasted 20 years and has spread its storyline (yes, it has characters and a storyline!) over 12 games.  If you have ever loved horror films and always wanted to be in one, this is about the closest you may ever get. Enjoy it, because there are no Academy Awards for surviving.

TV Characters Who Were Just TOO Happy

Yes, sometimes you’re watching your favorite TV show or movie masterpiece and there’s one character that just grates on your nerves. Not because that character is actually poorly written, not because you actually love to hate or hate to love them, but because they just won’t stop smiling. How can that be realistic? What is he hiding? Sometimes, you just want that character to see the more miserable side of the world. Of course, that never happens. These TV characters were way too happy for whatever reason and cruel reality never got anywhere near them.

We’ll start with the barest, most obscure memories. Do you remember the Sidler on Seinfeld? He was that guy–always smiling–who would sneak up on Elaine without really meaning to, and it bothered her so much that she ended up giving him a case of tic-tacs to carry around as a sort of alarm system. When she told him the reason for the tic-tacs was his bad breath, he didn’t get the slightest bit offended. He smiled, said thanks, and they went on their way. Naturally, Elaine got tired of the sound of tic-tacs.

Maybe we should explore the darker side of things. Even on a drama about a serial killer like “Dexter,” there had to be one character who always had a smile on his face. Look no further than Masuka, the lead forensics investigator. Sure, most of his smiles–and they were endless–came to light after a crude sexual innuendo or terrible joke, but the show definitely needed him for some well-placed comic relief.

You probably won’t be too surprised by these others. Happy the dwarf deserves a spot on this list. I mean, when your very name is “Happy,” what choice do you really have? He was the guy who always smiled and always saw the best in everyone, and he was the guy who didn’t know how to frown. Sure he was a cartoon character, but who cares? Happy represents a good life lesson for the rest of us. No matter how bad things get, there are still things that matter all around us–and we should focus more on those.

Then again, Baloo from The Jungle Book might top even Happy the dwarf. This guy knew how to have a good time even when the world was chaos all around him and his little friend. With a positive outlook and the right way of looking at even the worst of situations, you never know what the powers-that-be might have in store for you next. Baloo epitomized this philosophical viewpoint, and maybe we should try to be more like him.

Who did you think was just too happy to be on TV?

Weird Museums You Need To Visit Before You Die

For every great museum full of art and history and an inspirational understanding of life, there is another that stands out for completely different reasons. If you’ve ever wanted to visit a museum of a different sort, then search no further. These are the weirdest museums you need to visit before the grim reaper claims you.

In Dedham, Massachusetts there is a museum which only accepts art that sucks. Yes, you read that correctly. If you can’t draw or paint, this might be the place to take your submission. The “Museum of Bad Art,” as it’s named, is so very quaintly located in a basement. Enjoy the toilets.

If you’re into home security, perhaps you should take a quick visit to McLean, Texas where you’ll find the Devil’s Rope Barbed Wire Museum. Guess what useful invention this museum is dedicated to exploring! If it’s chosen artistic obsession isn’t great enough, then just know this: you’re visiting the former site of a bra factory on the well-known route 66. Have fun.

If home security reminds you of a situation that got out of hand in your very recent past, then look no further to Houston, Texas for the National Museum of Funeral History. We’re sure you’re as excited as we are to learn about the ancient art of putting people in the ground. Or incinerating them. However you prefer to go, we’re certainly not going to judge.

The UFO Museum and Research Center might provide the weird intellectual aftertaste you so rightly crave, and you’ll find what you need in Roswell, New Mexico. If you want to know a little more about the “alleged” conspiracy theory that suggests little green men crash-landed nearby in 1947, then you won’t want to miss this one.

Then again, if you’d rather travel internationally you’ll still find what you’re looking for in the weird museum department. If you’re a fan of puppies, then perhaps you might want to check out the Dog Collar Museum in England, where you can find a centuries-old collection of accessories for man’s best friend.

You might be feeling frisky during your travels and, if so, you should visit the Iceland Phallological Museum. Sure, it’s not for everyone, and your favorite beer-drinking, confederate flag-waving, football loving husband might not be so interested in learning all there is to know about the history of the penis, but do drag him along anyway. And don’t worry too much–this museum isn’t devoted to the human penis–it’s devoted to all of them! You’ll find 276 to be exact, from a number of species. You know you want to learn the ins and outs of each and every one!

We do hope you’re in the mood for some travel, because the world’s museums have so very much to offer our naturally inquisitive minds.

Weird Things That Make People Happy

You know how people have pet peeves? Little things that get on their nerves? Well, there’s no name for it, but there are little things that make us ridiculous happy – even if it’s nonsensical. Here’s a few things that make us innately happy:

  1. Cleaning Wax From Your Ears – especially if you feel the pressure being built by the wax, the relief of cleaning the wax out can bring you great joy.
  2. The Pop From Opening A New Jar – there’s nothing more satisfying than hearing that noise after you’ve struggled to open the jar for a few minutes
  3. Finding A Seat On Mass Transit – for commuters who end up having to stand, finding a seat can be the biggest victory of the day
  4. Watching Your Breath In Cold Air – you can’t deny it: you’ve pretended to be smoking cigarettes and watched to see how far your breath can go
  5. The Smell of The Library – we probably all own a kindle but when you get a new book or walk into a bookstore or library it’s absolutely amazing and nostalgic
  6. New Car Smell – the scent of fresh leather tingles your senses and makes you feel that you’ve accomplished the American Dream by owning a brand new car
  7. Popping Bubble Wrap – if you don’t find this enjoyable then you are fundamentally wrong with you. This is the best stress reliever
  8. Stepping on Autumn Leaves – hearing them crunch and crackle under your feet makes you feel powerful
  9. Waking Up & Realizing You Can Sleep Longer – that moment when you wake up before your alarm goes off and you have another half hour of sleep! Priceless
  10. Hearing An Old Song That Used To Be Your Jam – turn the radio up, roll the windows down, and get ready to do your best performance – it’s your jam!

This list is brought to you by:

What Makes a Dog Cute?

When you see something that is absolutely fricking adorable, you just know! You don’t sit there and think “Oh why is this so cute?” But if you do, here’s an explanation of the science behind the word cute.

First, let’s do some etymology and see how the world “Cute” came into being. “Cute” comes from the German word Kinderschema. Kinder means baby or child and schema means features. Therefore, kinderschema means childlike features.

Here are some characteristics of babies and dogs:

  • large head relative to body size
  • big forward facing eyes
  • floppy walks and teetering gait
  • round body shape
  • soft touchable skin (well in the case of dogs, fur)

You never realized how much in common your dog is to that of a baby. And that’s what makes it cute! We associate the helplessness vulnerability of a cute baby to other animals such as cats, dogs, chinchillas, and so on and so forth.

And now that we know why, here’s a few dog breeds that make the absolute cutest puppies.

English Bulldog – They are wrinkly, tubby, and they look like they are squatting.

Golden Retriever – A classic, cute puppy that is just a fluff ball of fur.

Corgi – Corgi’s legs are even shorter than their bodies, which makes their walk hilarious and absolutely adorable.

French Bulldog – This is different than the English bulldog because it isn’t tubby but its ears are gigantic which makes it look silly and cute.

Pomeranian – This breed is known for look like a stuffed teddy bear. They have a very fluffy coat and tiny ears which make them almost like a stuffed animal.

Is there a type of dog breed that I am missing from my list? What is your favorite cute dog breed? Are there any other dogs that you think are ugly? Even the Bedlington Terrier has some cute features!


Land Of Free and Home Of The Brave

What is the American Dream? According to Wikipedia, “The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States, the set of ideals (democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity, and equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers.” This idea, which stems from the declaration of independence that all men are created equal, is what drove people to conquer the western frontier leading to manifest destiny and drove the wave of immigration into our country into the 19th century (according to the lawyers at, which led to the industrial revolution in the roaring 20s, which was also inspiration for the Civil Rights Movement in 1964.

Does the American Dream still exist in today’s world? Although originally “all men” meant white men, it has now come to include all of humankind. The American Dream has shifted from what used to be about material things (like owning a car, owning a house with a white picket fence) to now focusing on creating a meaningful life by being charitable, giving back to the community and society as a whole, spending time with friends and family and being able to maintain their socioeconomic lifestyle.

Another shift in the American Dream comes from parents wanting the American Dream for their children, whereas now that these children are grown, want the American Dream for themselves. With more and more millennials now being of working age, they want to have a good income to support their lifestyle but they are also the most charitable and globally conscious generation. With that being said, there’s a chance that this generation turns the American Dream into something international.

What do you believe? Do you believe that the American Dream still exists or is it something that is long in the past?

Can Colors Affect Your Mood?

According to the famous artist Pablo Picasso, “Colors, like features, follow the changes of emotions.” Can the color of something really change your mood? Welcome to Color Psychology. Although not really a tested field in the world of science, color psychology has been applied to the industries of marketing, advertising and of course graphic design because they claim certain colors can capture people’s attention and get them to convert (whether by buying their product or remembering their logo for future purchases).

This isn’t the first time that people have though color might affect the body. In Ancient Egypt and China, they practiced chromotherapy, which is the use of colors to heal the body. This practice is still found in holistic treatment centers. Each color corresponds to a part of the body to help it heal. For example, red stimulates circulation and blue relieves pain.

But what do modern scientists say about this effect of color? Can it really make a difference to your emotions? Many current psychologists say the science behind this is iffy because the association of colors comes from previous experience with that color. For example, if your abusive step father’s favorite color was blue, then being in a blue room might not give you the same calming effect as most people. Also, they argue that although it might be calming at first, this is a temporary effect and not permanent.

Because the marketing and advertising industry have designated red, orange and yellow as warm colors and green, blue and purple as cool colors, we are subconsciously believing in this theory also. We also associate the warm colors with summer and the cool colors with winter. This can be seen in the fashion industry and beauty industry.

What do you think? Do you think that color can impact your mood or cure your ailments?