When you think of Valentine’s Day, I bet you think of chocolate. When you think of chocolate, you just might think of laughter, but I suspect weight loss doesn’t cross your mind. Weight loss isn’t a laughing matter, is it? But a study from Vanderbilt University manages to weave together all three: laughter, weight loss AND chocolate. Vanderbilt researchers report that genuine laughter, the kind that lasts about 10 to 15 minutes, burns the same amount of calories found in a medium square of chocolate. This translates to about 50 calories, which, if done everyday, can result in about 4 pounds of weight loss at the end of the year (assuming everything else stays the same, of course). Considering that laughter also produces natural endorphins, those “feel good” brain chemicals that lower your blood pressure, decrease your stress and improve your mood, you have nothing to lose except maybe a little weight and stress, right?
But wait: choose a square of dark chocolate over milk chocolate, and you throw in the extra benefit of flavonoids, the immune boosting compound found in foods like berries, carrots, citrus fruits, and cocoa beans from which dark chocolate is made.
Flavonoids help reduce your body’s level of C-reactive protein, an indicator of inflammation, which in turn is a major risk of heart disease. Flavonoids also help lower the “bad” cholesterol LDL, which can clog arteries, interfere with your blood flow, and possibly trigger a stroke. And that’s not all: flavonoids also increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin, which lowers your risk of diabetes. And it only takes 1 ounce (about 1 to 2 squares) to get all these flavonoid benefits.
So weight loss, laughter, and chocolate can have something in common. Laugh every day for 10 minutes and you burn the same amount of calories found in a square of dark chocolate. Can’t resist the chocolate? Keep your daily intake to no more than 1 ounce, AND add real belly laughter, the kind that takes your breath away and makes everyone else laugh with you, and you’ll even the calorie score. Choose one ounce of dark chocolate, with laughter on the side, and you add the extra benefit of immune boosting flavonoids without adding to your waistline.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!