3 Sweet Truths About The Health Benefits of Chocolate

3 Sweet Truths About The Health Benefits of Chocolate

Today is Valentine’s Day, and it’s no secret that this holiday is filled with lots of sweet indulgences. Heart-shaped chocolate boxes and decadent chocolate desserts are just about everywhere this time of year, causing many of us to wonder if any of these chocolaty treats are actually good for us.

Research shows that chocolate can indeed have powerful health benefits when it is consumed in its natural raw state. That’s because cacao, which is chocolate minus its natural fat (cocoa butter) and added sweeteners, is packed with tons of antioxidants and vitamins.

Here’s a look at a few of the healthy ingredients found in chocolate:

Antioxidants: Chocolate contains flavanol, a naturally occurring antioxidant with many heart healthy benefits including lowering blood pressure and reducing blood clotting. Besides flavanol, chocolate also contains many more powerful antioxidants, and according to health experts, may contain up to fifteen times more of these cell-protecting antioxidant compounds than blueberries!

Essential vitamins and minerals: Cacao beans are loaded with many essential vitamins and minerals the body needs to thrive. These include vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, E along with magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese.

When compared to other foods, cacao contains one of the highest amounts of magnesium—an essential mineral required by the body to maintain healthy muscle and nerve function, build strong bones, and keep our immune system strong.

Mood-boosting propertiesThere’s a reason chocolate makes us smile. Resveratrol, an antioxidant found chocolate among other products contains mental health benefits including boosting levels of endorphins and serotonin in the brain helping to improve our mood.

If you’re a chocolate lover or just looking to boost your health by adding it to your diet, then just remember that it’s best to avoid overly processed chocolate that contains artificial flavoring and sweeteners.

Dr. Andrew Weil’s preferred way to get the health benefits of chocolate is by enjoying an ounce or two of dark chocolate that’s 70 percent cacao several times a week.

How sweet it is!

4 Reasons to Celebrate Non-GMO Month

4 Reasons to Celebrate Non-GMO Month

Did you know that October is officially Non-GMO Month? For almost a decade this month, retail stores nationwide will celebrate the consumer’s right to be informed of foods and products that contain genetically modified organisms, aka GMOs.

What exactly are GMOs again?

GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, are products of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE), which creates new combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes by combining DNA from one species with DNA from another. The result: new organisms that do not occur in nature.

GMOs are often not labeled as such. In many developed nations, GMO products are heavily restricted or banned altogether because they have yet to be proven safe for people’s health and the health of the environment. However, in the U.S. there is a dearth of public awareness of the potentially harmful repercussions of GMO products.

Here are four more reasons why you should celebrate Non-GMO Month this October and empower yourself to make the right decisions for you and your family.

1. Human Health

Currently, seed companies prohibit independent research with their products, leaving very little empirical data available.

2. Environmental and Animal Health

Genetically engineered crops can cause a variety of destructive problems on the surrounding environment. Farmers who use GMO crops can spray their fields to kill everything growing in the area except the specific GMO food crop. The increased use of pesticides and herbicides often leads to superweeds, which then become resistant to the same pesticides, creating the need for stronger, more toxic pesticides (that can leach into our food and water sources!).

3. Moral and Ethical Concerns

Some people question whether genetically altered crops and species threaten and violate the natural order of an environment. Also, genetic modification may involve the creation of foods that are prohibited by certain groups (e.g., the use of animal genes may conflict with some religions, as well as the diets of vegetarians and vegans).

4. Labeling Concerns

Whether you decide to limit or restrict your consumption of GMO products, the right to know what is in our food is important. Research has shown that many Americans would choose not to have GMO products if aware and given the choice.

When shopping for food, it’s a valuable practice to stop and ask yourself the basic question: Where does it all come from? It’s time for us to be food detectives.

Here are a few ways you may be able to consume fewer GMO products:

  • Buy produce and other food items from farmers’ markets.
  • Start conversations with the people selling your food to get more information.
  • Grow your own food in a garden at home or join a community garden.
  • Join a corporate garden or co-op to know where items are coming from.

To help you choose the right foods, look for the butterfly on your favorite products when you go shopping at your local grocery store. You may, also, download the Non-GMO Project Shopping Guide iPhone App.

How will you celebrate Non-GMO month?

Adapted by Joshua Rosenthal, IIN
Don’t Do Away With the Yolk

Don’t Do Away With the Yolk

Egg whites and not the yolk, huh!?!?

For too long there has been a stigma that the yolk of an egg is high in cholesterol, even though skipping it skimps on the most nutritious part of the egg. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines allows eating up to one egg a day, yolk and all, within a healthful eating plan.

It is true that the egg yolk – with about 213 milligrams (mg) per serving – is one of the most concentrated sources of cholesterol in the diet. Recent studies show that the relationship between dietary cholesterol and blood levels of cholesterol, the type that causes heart disease, is very complex and highly individual. Research has failed to provide conclusive evidence that one egg a day can raise your blood cholesterol or risk for heart disease. Studies show that eating eggs may cause a small rise in LDL (“bad” cholesterol) in some people – though the increase is in a subclass of larger LDLs, which are less likely to contribute to plaque in the arteries – and an accompanying rise in “good” HDL cholesterol. Still, the American Heart Association advises that if you have high LDL levels, you should cut your dietary cholesterol levels to 200 mg per day.

But there’s a lot more to egg yolks than cholesterol. Yolks contain high quality protein and essential vitamins and nutrients. One of the most powerful benefits of the yolk is the concentration of lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids responsible for its rich, golden color. They are key components in the human eye, and eating foods that contain these nutrients preserves good eyesight and prevents vision loss. High levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet are associated with the lowest incidence of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss among the elderly. Tossing the yolk in favor of the perceived healthier egg white tosses out 100 percent of the carotenoids, essential fatty acids, vitamins A, E, D and K, as well as most of the calcium, iron and folate in the egg.

While spinach and some other foods are excellent sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that lutein in eggs is three times more available to your body, compared with an equivalent amount of cooked spinach. What better reason to get cracking on the budget-friendly, accessible egg? Just be sure to shy away from less healthy pairings, such as eggs fried in vegetable oils or served with bacon, and partner moderate amounts with vegetables in omelets, quiche and stir-fries. It is, also, more beneficial to opt for pasture-raised or organic.

Adapted from Environmental Nutrition
7 Must-Have Foods for Natural Beauty Treatments

7 Must-Have Foods for Natural Beauty Treatments

Harsh chemicals and unnatural ingredients do not have to be included when treating yourself to a nourishing spa treatment! Skin problems, such as dry skin or acne, can be treated with some of the most effective and natural remedies created at home with just a few ingredients from your kitchen.  I’m constantly mixing up some concoction of foods in the kitchen to use in the bathroom for any part of my skin! The best part is, these foods are not expensive, they are not hard to find, they are the most beneficial for your skin, and you most likely already have on them on had because of their very common ingredients.

So, the next time you make a trip to the grocery store, add these 7 foods to your shopping cart for some at home pampering! Continue reading

Is Salt Causing Inflammation and Autoimmune Disease?

Is Salt Causing Inflammation and Autoimmune Disease?

We’ve long known that too much salt in your diet is a bad thing. The overconsumption of sodium, unfortunately common in the Standard American Diet of fast food and highly processed packaged goods, has been strongly linked to high blood pressure, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.

Now there’s even more reason to ditch the canned soup and frozen meals in favor of fresh, whole foods: several new studies show that too much salt can contribute to Continue reading

Best Oil for Dry Dehydrated Winter Skin

Best Oil for Dry Dehydrated Winter Skin

And, the winner is…

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is a good all-round moisturizer as it’s rich in fatty acids, vitamin A and E. Olive oil is similar to the oils naturally produced by our skin so it’s also absorbed well, helping to boost your skin’s elasticity. The antioxidants in olive oil may even help protect against skin cancer! However, Continue reading

3 Food Hacks To Make Your Food Healthier

3 Food Hacks To Make Your Food Healthier

8 Incredible Food Hacks That Make Your Food HealthierToday, the largest cause of mortality in the Western World is not a lack of food or rampaging bacteria… In fact, it’s what we do eat that poses the greatest risk to our lives.

Diet and lifestyle now drive the top causes of death in America. Food is no longer our means for survival. For many of us, it’s a slow poison.

Food is truly a double-edged sword… On one hand, the modern, processed ‘Western’ diet causes many chronic diseases. But on the flip side, food can also be a powerful medicine to restore health, vitality and live a long and vibrant life.

Make food your weapon of wellness with these 3 fun hacks to supercharge your diet!

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4 Herbs and Spices that Naturally Stop Sugar Cravings

4 Herbs and Spices that Naturally Stop Sugar Cravings

stop sugar cravingsWith the holiday season in full swing, it’s (way too) easy to OD on sugary cookies, cakes, and treats at every turn. Of course, indulging in a Christmas cookie is good for the soul, but going overboard on treats may not be the best decision. The next time you find yourself tempted with holiday sweets, reach for one of these spices to stop sugar cravings in their tracks.

Stress, food sensitivities, loneliness, a yeast overgrowth in the gut, blood sugar imbalances, and even hormone fluctuations can leave you searching for the sweet stuff.

Why do we love sugar so much? When we consume sugar, our brains reward us with a release of the neurotransmitters serotonin (the feel-good hormone). And beta-endorphins, which act as natural painkillers, produces a sense of well-being, increasing self-esteem and settling anxiety. At least, temporarily.

This also happens when we consume other simple refined carbohydrates that are easily converted to glucose (sugar). This is why digging into that holiday cookie pile just feels so good.

Unfortunately, sugar overkill can lead to some serious health issues including obesity, heart disease, dental disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, type-2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, hormone irregularity, and depressed mood and anxiety. Not to mention, sugar is also rather addictive.

4 Herbs and Spices that Stop Sugar Cravings

1. Cinnamon: This warming and naturally sweet spice has been utilized for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. Loaded with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and polyphenols, cinnamon helps the body to  Continue reading

The Best Foods to Control Your Hunger Pangs

The Best Foods to Control Your Hunger Pangs

apple-shutterstock_124592107Whether you’re trying to lose weight or simply focus on a heart-healthy eating regimen, a growling stomach can interfere with your eating goals. Hunger is a normal body reaction and survival mechanism. But in today’s environment of ample food availability, hunger can lead us to over-consume foods, especially those that aren’t so healthful.

Appetite control is a very complex issue; your body’s over-arching goal is to maintain a balance of energy in vs. energy out, and will send you a powerful hunger signal when it needs energy. Other issues also come into play, which may encourage you to eat even when you’re not hungry — triggers that tempt you to eat, emotions, easy access to food, and even large portion sizes. However, research is starting to shine the light on how your daily food choices can help you feel more satisfied. Here are some of the most promising diet strategies.

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Natural Skin Treatments for Summer Weather Woes

Natural Skin Treatments for Summer Weather Woes

Summer’s gorgeous sunshine, soft breezes, and blooming flowers can make you want to linger outside for hours, but all the time outdoors can also make summer a bummer for your skin. Remedies for bug bites, sunburn, heat rashes, and other common summertime ailments are a dime at dozen at the pharmacy, but most are laced with chemicals and preservatives. Remember, your skin is your largest organ and it absorbs whatever you put on it. Most holistic experts agree – don’t rub into your skin what you wouldn’t be willing to eat! The good news is there are plenty of holistic ingredients that can effectively treat common summer skin ailments.

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