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candyOh, how we love the sweet stuff—from candy, cupcakes and sugary soft drinks to starchy carbohydrates like grains that break down into sugar in the digestive tract. And while it’s easy to see how that love affair can affect their waistlines, too many Americans are blind to its impact on their overall health.

Now, a team of experts from the University of California are bringing home the hard truth using a website designed to encourage people to kick the sugar habit.

Launched this month, SugarScience.org reveals “the unsweetened truth” about hidden sugar and the health risks associated with a high-sugar diet. Scientists and public health professionals poured through more than 8,000 scientific papers to create a resource of peer-reviewed and -supported research that is easily accessible to the general public.

The SugarScience team says their goal is to help individuals and communities make healthy choices, and it begins with understanding just how dangerous sugar is to human health. For example, too much added sugar from soda and sports drinks can overload critical organs over time, leading to serious diseases, according to a statistic from the website.

Check out SugarScience.org today to learn more!

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First heart health and now a better memory? No wonder we love chocolate. Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center recently completed a small but noteworthy study in which antioxidant compounds found in chocolate were shown to help older adults improve memory skills as they age.

Scientists recruited nearly 40 participants between the ages of 50 and 69, each of whom drank a daily mixture containing cocoa flavanols. After only three months, those who received the high-flavanol mixture performed about 25 percent better on a memory test than their low-flavanol counterparts—a difference study author Dr. Scott Small said was equal to performing like someone two or three decades younger.

The memory test involved everyday tasks such as facial recognition and remembering the location of an object, both of which are skills that seem to decline as we get older. Scientists speculate the improvements could be the result of increased blood flow to the brain or even stimulated growth of message-receiving neurons in the brain. However, no improvement was seen in areas of the brain often impaired in those with Alzheimer’s, suggesting the disease follows a different process than normal age-related memory loss.

Still, just eating more chocolate isn’t going to do the trick—unless you’re up for eating at least 300 grams of dark chocolate a day (that’s about seven candy bars, say researchers)—not to mention most of those healthy flavanols are often processed out. However, more research is planned to see if the healthy compounds may provide benefits in pill form.

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