September Health Tips

Eating chocolate daily linked to lower heart disease and stroke risk

chocolate John Loo

Image credit: John Loo

There may be no need to cut out chocolate to protect cardiovascular health, say researchers, after finding that eating up to 100g of chocolate every day is actually linked to reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.

A large group of people in the UK (9,214 men and 11,737 women) were monitored for almost 12 years, during which time 3,013 (14%) people had either an episode of fatal or non-fatal coronary heart disease or stroke.

Around one in five (20%) participants said they did not eat any chocolate, but among the others, daily consumption averaged 7g, with some eating up to 100g. Higher levels of chocolate eating were associated with:

  • Younger age;
  • Lower weight, waist: hip ratio, systolic blood pressure, inflammatory proteins and diabetes;
  • More regular exercise;
  • Higher energy intake and a diet containing more fat and carbs and less protein and alcohol.

Compared with those who stayed off the sweet stuff, higher chocolate intake was linked to an 11% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, a 25% lower risk of associated death and a 9% lower risk of hospital admission or death as a result of heart disease.

And the highest chocolate intake was associated with a 23% lower risk of stroke, even after taking account of other risk factors.

“Cumulative evidence suggests that higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future cardiovascular events,” the researchers say. “There does not appear to be any evidence to say that chocolate should be avoided in those who are concerned about cardiovascular risk.”

Interestingly, milk chocolate was more frequently eaten by the participants than dark chocolate, so the beneficial health effects may extend to this type of chocolate too.

Source, Jump Start Mind, Body & Soul:


The groove affects your heart

music  alexanderward12

Image credit: alexanderward12

Repeated musical phrases can affect the heart rate, which may mean music could be used as a treatment for heart conditions, according to a study presented at the British Cardiovascular Society Conference.

Hearing a repeated 10 second rhythm found in various music compositions, particularly by Verdi, coincides exactly with changes in blood pressure that reduce the heart rate.

Experts played different music styles to people and analysed each person’s cardiovascular response, including blood pressure and pulse measurements. The responses to calming (Indian rajas), or exciting music (jazz or fast classical), were similar between individuals. These findings suggest that a music therapy to calm people could be relatively simple, ie music would not need to be tailored to the individual.

“Music is already being used commercially as a calming therapy but this has happened independent of controlled studies into its effectiveness,” explains Prof Peter Sleight who has researched into the area for over 20 years. “Our research has provided improved understanding as to how music, particularly certain rhythms, can affect your heart and blood vessels.”

Source, Jump Start Mind, Body & Soul:


The secret to a long life? Always look on the bright side…

sun free image

Older adults who are happier with life are more likely to live longer, says new research published in Psychological Science. And variability in life satisfaction increases risk of death, but only in people who are generally less satisfied.

Every year for nine years, nearly 4,500 men and women aged over 50 years old responded to the question, “All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life?” Responses ranged from 0 to 10, with 10 indicating greater life satisfaction.

As life satisfaction increased, the risk of death reduced by 18%. But greater variability in life satisfaction was associated with a 20% increased risk of death. People with high levels of life satisfaction tended to have reduced risk of death regardless of how their life satisfaction varied over time. Other factors taking into account were age, gender, education, health conditions, smoking status, physical activity and depressive symptoms.

“Although life satisfaction is typically considered relatively consistent across time, it may change in response to life circumstances such as divorce or unemployment,” says Dr Julia Boehm who is involved in the study. “Some people may adapt more readily to new situations and thus appear to have relatively stable life satisfaction, and others may not adapt as quickly. If people repeatedly encounter distressing life events that diminish their life satisfaction, then fluctuations in lower levels of satisfaction seem to be particularly harmful for longevity.”

Source, Jump Start Mind, Body & Soul:


New Zealand blackcurrants may keep the brain young

blackcurrants Ilya

<> Image credit: Ilya

New Zealand blackcurrants help keep us mentally agile, says research in the Journal of Functional Foods, a finding that could have implications in managing the mental decline associated with ageing populations.

A total of 36 healthy adults aged 18–35 years had a 250ml drink before doing a set of difficult mental performance assessments. The drink was either a sugar and taste-matched placebo (no blackcurrant), an anthocyanin-enriched New Zealand blackcurrant extract (Delcyan) or a cold-pressed juice from the New Zealand blackcurrant cultivar “Blackadder”.

The assessments showed that after consuming the Delcyan and Blackadder drinks, attention and mood were improved and mental fatigue was reduced. Blood tests showed that the activity of the monoamine oxidase enzymes (MAO) was strongly decreased after consuming the Blackadder juice. This regulates serotonin and dopamine concentrations in the brain, chemicals known to affect mood and cognition.

“This study is the first to look at the effects of berry consumption on the cognitive performance of healthy young adults,” says Dr Arjan Scheepens, who led the study. “Our previous research has suggested that compounds found in certain berry fruit may act like monoamine oxidase inhibitors, similar to a class of pharmaceuticals commonly used in the treatment of both mood disorders and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease. This research has shown that New Zealand-grown blackcurrants not only increase mental performance, but also reduce the activity of monoamine oxidases.”

Source, Jump Start Mind, Body & Soul:


The Great British Bake Off…

The long awaited return of GBBO is here and last Wednesday we finally got underway with series 6! When we say we, we’re referring to the 9.3 million people who tuned in… impressive.


Just to add to our excitement, judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood have created 30 new challenges that will test the contestants’ baking prowess, creativity and skill in a bid to find the country’s best amateur baker. From Victorian classics to high end patisserie, it’s all about keeping a cool head and steady hand in order to impress.

They got off to a flying start when they headed to the iconic tent for cake week. With their sights set high and aiming to better last year’s winner Nancy Birtwhistle, it was a mouth-watering Wednesday night for the majority of us.

The likes of a purple forest gateau, citrus madeira cake and even Mary Berry’s infamous frosted walnut layer cake all made an appearance on our screens. These tempting recipes have already appeared on the Bake Off website, so there are no excuses for not giving it a go yourself:

The BAFTA winning show has announced the finale will take place on the 7th October, with the autumn months and cold nights closing in, what better inspiration is there to stay in for a night of baking?

Just in case you want to get ahead of this year’s contestants, here are Mary Berry’s top tips –

Ready, Steady, BAKE!

Top tips for getting holiday ready

For the majority of us, a summer holiday is something we look forward to all year long.

Yet year after year we seem to forget how fast they come around. According to a survey by the Post Office, 37 per cent of holidaymakers admit to being disorganised packers, so we’re giving a helping hand and sharing our top tips…


Before you go:

  • First things first, make sure you have your passport and check it’s in date
  • Holiday insurance – you can pre book your insurance in advance. Just select the dates you need it to be valid to and from. Here are some of our favourite sites to give you a head start,,
  • Boarding passes – be sure to check in online and print off your boarding passes to save yourself some queuing time at the airport
  • Baggage – make sure you’ve added the amount of bags you intend to take with you to your booking. Double check the weight limits so you’re not surprised with any charges when you get to the airport


  • Getting started is always the hardest part – putting heavy items such as shoes on top of the wheels helps to balance the case out and stops any clothes getting squashed by them
  • Whether you choose to fold, roll or bundle your clothes into the suitcase, the key is not to over-pack! Squashed clothes become creased clothes
  • Don’t put anything valuable or irreplaceable in your suitcase; if it is eligible to go into your hand luggage keep it in there
  • If two or more people are travelling, split belongings between checked luggage so if one case goes missing, each of you will still have a change of clothes
  • Once you’ve put all your clothes in, make sure your beach towel is the last thing to go in and lay it across the top so everything is held in place
  • Add something memorable onto your suitcase handle – chances are most people will have a case similar to yours so it’s a good idea to have something to tell them apart


Once this is all done, it’s time to simply sit back, relax and enjoy your holiday!





Djokovic was crowned Wimbledon champion, but who won the style stakes?

As well as being captivated by the fast action tennis at Wimbledon over the past two weeks, we have also been keeping a close eye on the royal box to catch a glimpse of the summer fashions on show.

As the centre court draws to a close for another year, here are just a few stylish highlights we’ve taken from this year’s celebrity packed tournament.

Florals are a huge hit

Flowery patterned textiles were a favourite with Kim Sears, Pippa Middleton and Vogue editor, Anna Wintour, who brought a burst of colour to centre court with some eye-catching and timeless prints.
Floral dresses are flattering, comfortable and can be accessorised to suit a wide range of social occasions.

Kim SearsPippa-Middleton-vogue-7jul15-getty_592x888anna-wintour-wimbledon-vogue-6jul15-getty_b_592x888

The Royals tick all of the boxes

The Duchess and Duke of Cambridge continued to turn heads as the fashion forward pair upped the stakes while showing their support for Andy Murray.


Kate wowed the crowds in a striking red midi dress, while Prince William proved that classic navy blazers are a safe but stylish option.

Game, set and match for the Beckhams


The adorable father and son, David and Brooklyn Beckham also opted for classic navy suit jackets for their bonding session at the tennis.


Roger Federer might not have won the men’s final this year, but with his crisp Swiss style we think he always takes the lead for having a classic sense of fashion. If Wimbledon has inspired you to dust off your racket, get the look with our own range of stylish shorts and polo shirts.


Surprising Facts About Online Shopping [infographic]

We recently put together this infographic which highlights some of the more surprising and lesser known facts about online shopping here in the UK. Hope you like it.

If you’d like to include this on your own site, there’s a code below to embed it.

Surprising Facts About Online Shopping

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Style Icons Over 50

Ever heard the saying, age is just a number?

At Chums, our focus is to offer comfortable, stylish clothing designed to make our customers look and feel great. So it’s only right that we have our own style icons to admire.

At 78, Morgan Freeman is a prime example of how to keep cool and current. We’ve known him as Hoke Colburn, ‘Red’ and even God over the years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is his suave sense of style.

Morgan is seen here spicing up a classic look with an eye-catching yellow tie. Sometimes, less is simply more.

morgan freeman

The former 007 didn’t let hitting his sixties stop him from dressing to impress, Pierce Brosnan is pictured here looking super smart in his summer attire. He’s got the look down to a T with this beige linen suit.

pierce brosnan

With summer upon us, we wouldn’t blame you for wanting to get a taste of Pierce’s linen look. We’ve even got our own version here.

The list can seem endless when it comes to the likes of George Clooney, Richard Gere and Denzel Washington. As Coco Chanel famously said, “Fashion passes, style remains”.

This definitely applies to these three glamorous ladies.

Mary Berry looks radiant in this full length navy number, a timeless classic.  She might be 80 years of age but the Great British Bake Off star never fails to impress when it comes to stepping onto the red carpet.

Mary’s elegant style is common knowledge after her famous, floral Zara bomber jacket appearance on GBBO. This caused the jacket to sell out worldwide, just 48 hours after the show aired. Talk about being a style icon!

mary berry

Dame Judi Dench, most famously known as M, has a habit of stealing the show at Bond premieres. At 70 years old, she knows how to put on a show, both on and off screen.

Her tasteful pixie hair cut is always perfectly styled, and an elegant necklace in place completes her look.

judi dench

The award winning actress, Helen Mirren shows us how to dress like a Queen in this ruby red fishtail dress.

The jewel embellishment wasn’t the only thing drawing people’s attention that night, as Helen came away with 4 wins at the Golden Globe awards. She simply has it all!

helen mirren

We hope our stylish celebrities stand out to you as much as they do us, after all everyone needs to get inspiration from somewhere.

And like fine wines, the best only improve with age.


Father’s Day Gift Guide

It can be tough buying a Father’s Day gift for the man who has everything, but this year Chums may have the perfect suggestion for that much deserving dad.

Whether they’re pottering around the house or relaxing in the living room, a Roberts Dab Radio (£169.99) is a timeless Father’s Day gift that never goes out of style.

Your dad certainly won’t let you down in the style stakes if you pick him up a pair of these Farah Slant Pocket Trousers, which are only( £27.99) and come in an array of colours to suit his style.


Ideal for a rainy afternoon, or even a sunny one, the Portapuzzle, (£29.99), is perfect for the problem solver dad who wants to take things at his own pace. The felt surface holds the puzzle pieces in and the folding case means he can store it away to finish off another day.


It’s not always possible to help your older relatives out as much as you’d like, so why not give them a helping hand with their daily routines by calling in Extra Help. This handy service offers help with shopping, preparing meals, cleaning and more.


Buying your dad a National Trust Membership doubles up as a gift for the rest of the family. What better way to spend a day than quality time with your family than taking a stroll around a stunning stately home or gorgeous garden. The National Trust also offers a special senior deal for over 60s if they’ve previously been a member for more than five years in the last 10 years.

car cushion

Make getting out and about that bit easier with this revolving car cushion (£14.99) – it revolves 360 degrees to prevent potential strain when getting into position and the comfy pad makes the journey much more enjoyable.

Whether you’re having a day out with dad or helping at home, we hope you’re Father’s Day is just as special as he is!

By Julaine Speight content writer at Chums



Happy Birthday Winnie Blagden

When we heard that Sheffield resident, Winnie Blagden was approaching her 100th birthday with no surviving relatives, Chums wanted to ensure she had a birthday to remember. We gift wrapped a Chums Crew Neck cardigan in pastel blue and sent it to Winnie to celebrate her big day, along with a few other treats.

After BBC Radio Sheffield put an appeal on Facebook for gifts the response was overwhelming. More than 16,000 people globally sent a birthday card to Winnie, so after the unbelievable generosity from the general public, we were very pleased to see that Winnie chose to wear her Chums cardigan to mark her special day!


(It looks a shade darker but it’s definitely one of ours)

Here is some further information for the Telegraph on Winnie’s special day.

So once again a big happy birthday Winnie, we hope you enjoyed your celebrations.

June Health Tips

peanuts  Daniella Segura

Image credit: Daniella Segura

Eating peanuts good for health of arteries claims new research

Peanuts – the most popular snack in the UK – do more than provide a tasty treat, as scientists have discovered they could help the body’s network of blood vessels too.

Peanuts are actually legumes (seeds that grow in pods) and are an excellent source of protein.

Experts split a group of 15 overweight men into two groups. Half had a shake that included 3oz of ground peanuts. The other half had the shake (without the peanuts) but it was the same in terms of energy and nutrients.

The men that had the peanut shake had better functioning blood vessels afterwards than did the other group.

“Peanuts are a healthy snack when eaten as part of a healthy diet,” says lead researcher Xiaoran Liu. “Previous studies have shown that individuals who consume peanuts more than two times a week have a lower risk of coronary heart disease. This study indicates that the protective effect of peanut consumption could be due, in part, to its beneficial effect on artery health.”

But remember that peanuts are very full of energy, so use them as a replacement for other calories, rather than an addition.

Source, Jump Start Mind, Body & Soul:



sun on flower  John Morgan

John Morgan

Hot stuff! Folic acid may help older people cope with heat waves

Taking folic acid can improve blood vessel dilation in older people, according to new research, so folic acid supplements could be an inexpensive way to help older people increase skin blood flow during heat waves and reduce possible cardiovascular events.

“We know that when older adults are exposed to heat, their bodies are not able to increase skin blood flow to the same extent that young subjects do, and as a consequence, older adults are at a greater risk for cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, during environmental heat waves,” explains Anna Stanhewicz, who is involved in the work. “When young, healthy people are exposed to heat, their bodies increase blood flow to the skin and this increased flow, combined with sweating, helps to cool the body down.”

This is partly because older blood vessels cannot make enough nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is produced by the blood vessels using an enzyme that needs a cofactor called BH4. As people age, their levels of BH4 decrease.

The research team previously found that when they gave BH4 to older adults they were able to produce more nitric oxide. And the new study showed that folic acid increased nitric oxide production by increasing BH4.

“The bottom line is that folic acid supplementation increased nitric oxide production in older blood vessels,” Anna Stanhewicz says.

Source, Jump Start Mind, Body & Soul:


broccoli  cyclonebill

Image credit: cyclonebill

Man-made broccoli compound may become a future osteoarthritis treatment

A new drug based on a substance found in broccoli could offer hope to people with osteoarthritis, says research presented at a conference.

The therapy is based on a man-made version of sulforaphane, which is a compound found in vegetables such as cabbage, sprouts and broccoli.

Experts have found that the compound blocks enzymes that destroy joint cartilage and processes that cause inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. But people would have to consume immense amounts for it to have an effect.

But now a team has cleverly managed to incorporate sulforaphane into a medication called Sulforadex (SFX-01), in which a single dose provides as much sulforaphane as eating around 2.5 kg of broccoli in a day.

Lab tests showed that SFX-01 improved bone architecture, balance and movement.

A spokeswoman from Arthritis Research UK comments:

“We know that sulforaphane helps to block inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, but so far it has been difficult to see how this finding could be applied to humans without them having to consume vast amounts of broccoli every day. This new research could take us a step closer to being able to take a daily supplement.”

Source, Arthritis Digest:



cat  Gustaaf Prins copy

Image credit: Gustaaf Prins

Cats relax to the sound of music – and classical is top of their list

It is widely accepted that, in humans, music relaxes the body, mind and soul and an extensive body of research indicates that these benefits extend even to patients under general anaesthesia. And it appears that the same could go for cats.

“In the surgical theatres at the faculty where I teach and at the private veterinary medical centre where I spend my time operating, environmental music is always present, and is an important element in promoting a sense of wellbeing in the team, the animals, and their owners,” explains lead researcher, Miguel Carreira. “Different music genres affect individuals in different ways. During consultations I have noticed, for example, that most cats like classical music, particularly George Handel compositions, and become more calm, confident and tolerant throughout the clinical evaluation.”

The research team studied 12 female pet cats undergoing surgery and recorded their respiratory rate and pupil diameter at various points to gauge their depth of anaesthesia. The cats, which had been fitted with headphones, were exposed to two minutes of silence (as a control), followed randomly by two minutes each of classical music, gentle pop music and heavy metal.

The results showed that the cats were in a more relaxed state under the influence of classical music, with the pop music producing intermediate values. By contrast, the heavy metal music produced the highest values, indicating a more stressful situation.

The clinicians conclude that the use of certain music genres in the surgical theatre may allow a decrease in the amount of anaesthetic needed, in turn reducing the risk of undesirable side effects and thus promoting patient safety.

Next the team is going to look at if dogs are affected in the same way.



walking dog FaceMePLS

Image credit: FaceMePLS

Celebrating pets and the elderly

National Pet Month was celebrated earlier this summer and the theme was Pets and the elderly: enjoying later years together. The following points were highlighted:

  • Pet owners make fewer visits to their GP. Research in Germany found that those with pets paid 15% fewer visits to their doctor, with dog owning pensioners visiting their GP 21% less than non-dog owners.
  • Pets help reduce blood pressure, heart rate and stress. Even a simple act such as stroking a pet or watching fish swim in an aquarium lowers anxiety and blood pressure, reducing heart rates even in stressful situations.
  • Pets help make us more active. Dog walking, for example, can help reduce obesity, which is a £5 billion burden on the NHS each year.
  • Pets do wonders for our social lives. In social settings, for instance, owning a dog can lead to more social interaction plus pets can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
  • Pets have a wonderful role to play as we grow older. Pets in care homes can have a transformative effect on residents, combatting loneliness. Aquariums have been found to improve behaviour in dementia units and when placed in dining rooms have even managed to improve appetites!

<<walking dog>> Image credit: FaceMePLS



Time to get blooming marvellous at Chelsea

Is the talent at Chelsea Flower Show inspiring you to give gardening a go?

Well we’ve got all the tools to get the job done, so we’ve put some top tips together to get you started.

  1. Organic fertilisers, compost and mulching materials all enhance the nutrient level and encourage life
  2. Bright light washes out cooler colours, so blues, greens and purples are better suited to shaded areas
  3. To achieve the best and most natural effect, never plant bulbs in a row. Plant them in clumps of at least five, seven or nine.
  4. Experiment by positioning plants in their pots before putting them in the ground. That way you can move them around and adjust them to arrive at the best look
  5. Autumn is the perfect time to collect seeds of hardy annuals, sweet peas and other favourites
  6. Seeds need to be kept cool, dark and dry over the winter. Store envelopes containing seeds in an old ice-cream carton or biscuit tin and put it in the fridge
  7. Roses are the highlight of the summer garden, but if you have only a small plot, look for roses that flower all summer long
  8. And finally… the joy of gardening is that nobody ever gets it right first time. Or even second time, it’s important to enjoy yourself

If you’re in need of a visual goal, look at our favourite displays from 2012. Impressive?

mini flowerelephant chelsea

What are you waiting for? Get growing.

By Hollie Stirrup, content writer at Chums