Cupid’s Chemicals: The Biology of Falling in Love

An oldie but a goodie: this post was originally published on February 11th, 2016.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, you may be asking yourself the age-old question, “What is love?” Although this question has plagued great minds like Shakespeare and Haddaway through the centuries, modern science is getting closer to being able to find the elusive answer. It turns out that love may have less to do with the heart, and more to do with an intoxicating cocktail of neurotransmitters that flood the brain and cause “that lovin’ feeling.”

shutterstock_171680309

So what are these chemicals associated with falling in love?

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Organ Donation 101

A very special day is just around the corner: the one day a year when you can give your heart to someone new… or your liver, or a kidney. That’s right – February 14th isn’t just Valentine’s Day, it’s also National Organ Donor Day! Today on the blog, we’re celebrating by exploring how organ donation works, so that you can make an informed decision about your preference to donate!

There are currently 119,000 men, women, and children on the national transplant waiting list, and 22 people die every day waiting for a transplant. The good news is that more that 130 million people in the U.S. are registered as organ donors, and one donor can save up to 8 lives. However, only 3 in 1,000 people die in such a way that allows for organ donation.

Image copyright Catherine Lane 2015

Image copyright Catherine Lane 2015

Continue reading

Cupid’s Chemicals: The Biology of Falling in Love

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, you may be asking yourself the age-old question, “What is love?” Although this question has plagued great minds like Shakespeare and Haddaway through the centuries, modern science is getting closer to being able to find the elusive answer. It turns out that love may have less to do with the heart, and more to do with an intoxicating cocktail of neurotransmitters that flood the brain and cause “that lovin’ feeling.”

shutterstock_171680309

So what are these chemicals associated with falling in love?

Continue reading

Did you know…Certain chocolate is better for your heart-health?

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Health Sciences Library Staff! Spend some time with your loved ones today if you can! Since it’s still February, here is some heart-healthy information courtesy of The Cleveland Clinic, just in time for the sweetest of all holidays.

cocoa beansFlavonoids are compounds found in many plants that provide an antioxidant defense against environmental toxins and help to repair damage. There are may types of flavonoids; Flavanols are the main type found in the cocoa bean. Flavanols are responsible for giving cocoa its bitter and pungent flavor. During cocoa bean processing, flavanols may be lost (through roasting, fermenting, etc.) in an effort to reduce this taste.

darkchocolate1Dark Chocolate, depending on how it was processed, tends to have higher levels of flavanols than milk chocolate, resulting in the stronger taste. The higher the natural cocoa content, the more flavanols will be in the chocolate! When we consume plants-turned-foods rich in flavonoids we benefit from their antioxidant power too. As in plants, antioxidants help the body’s cells resist damage caused by free radicals that are formed by normal bodily processes (like breathing) and from environmental radicals (like cigarette smoke). Inadequate levels of antioxidants can lead to an increase in LDL-cholesterol oxidation and plaque formation on the walls of the arteries.

Research has indicated that flavanols have many positive influences on our vascular health. They may lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain and heart, make blood platelets less sticky and able to clot, and lower cholesterol.

Fat in chocolate comes from cocoa butter and is made up of equal parts of oleic acid (found in olive oil), stearic acid (which has a neutral effect on cholesterol) and palmitic acid (only makes up 1/3 of fat calories in chocolate). So, if you avoid the extra add-ins (like caramel and marshmallow) that raise the fat content in chocolate, an ounce or so of Dark Chocolate a few times per week could be considered healthy for you!