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Posts tagged ‘chocolate’

The Surprising Reason Chocolate is SO Healthy!

The Surprising Reason Chocolate is SO Darn Healthy

Chocolate is something of a miracle food — it can ease depression, boost circulation, lower blood pressure, and even help you lose weight. In a strange correlation, it could even make you more likely to win a Nobel Prize! To think, all of this bang in one, tiny, delectable package. But, why? How do the compounds in chocolate react in our bodies to produce such dramatic results? The answer lies within you.

In keeping with the wave of interest in our microbiomes and their effect on our health, recent research shows that the good bacteria in our stomachs, like Bifidobacterium, actually thrive on chocolate. That’s right, your good bacteria love chocolate just as much as you do. Within these bacteria, the chocolate gets fermented and converted into various, anti-inflammatory compounds. These anti-inflammatories then travel throughout the body, spreading their good cheer, so to speak, to the heart, brain, blood, and beyond.

These findings, unveiled at a recent meeting of the American Chemical Society, come from research associated with the cocoa solids — cocoa powder — so no sugar was present (which feeds less desirable gut dwellers). The powder is known to contain several antioxidants, known as polyphenols, and a bit of fiber — which keeps it moving along when digested. All of this makes bitter cocoa an ideal fuel for the hungry, friendly bacteria in your digestive system — and you can be sure they will pass on the benefits to you. Their feast can result in higher endorphins, less depression, and enhanced heart health, among countless other benefits, for you. A couple of teaspoons of cocoa powder in your smoothie might be just the trick to balance out health and deliciousness for a perfect breakfast!

Remember, not all chocolate is created equal. If you opt for a chocolate bar, be sure it is dark, as in 85% or greater. Too much sugar could negate the benefits. If that’s too bitter for your taste, add a small dollop of raw honey to very dark chocolate for a double-whammy of health benefits and palatable sweetness.

Without your microcosm of gut bacteria, chocolate might not pose nearly as many benefits to your health. Keep your gut balanced with probiotics and a balanced diet — and make sure to give your micro-critter friends a big thank-you with a health-boosting treat of dark chocolate once in a while.

( Leesa recommends Vivani organic 85% dark choclate)

By Jordyn Cormier

Jordyn Cormier

Jordyn is a choreographer, freelance writer, and an avid outdoors woman. Having received her B.F.A. in Contemporary Dance from the Boston Conservatory, she is passionate about maintaining a healthy body, mind, and soul through food and fitness. A lover of adventure, Jordyn can often be found hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, and making herself at home in the backcountry! Check out what else Jordyn has been up to at jordyncormier.com.

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Excellent Health is found along your journey and not just at your destination. Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your Health Issues or Problems and how HealthyHighway can help YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life? Please complete the information on our Contact Us page to schedule your consultation today! I look forward to helping YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life!

Live Well!

Leesa Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.HealthyHighway.org

consult ~ www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html

chews ~ www.Chews4Health.com/Leesa

enjoy ~ www.Chewcolat.com

follow ~ www.twitter.com/HealthyHighway

learn ~ www.healthyhighway.wordpress.com

like ~ www.tinyurl.com/Facebook-HealthyHighway

join ~ www.tinyurl.com/googleplusHealthyHighway

link ~ www.linkedin.com/in/leesawheeler

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6 Surprising and Natural Stress Relievers

6 Surprising (& Natural) Stress Relievers

Everyone gets stressed sometimes. Whether it be financial or personal, significant stress is an unfortunate aspect of modern living. But, too much stress can be a bad thing. Whether you have trouble sleeping or find yourself becoming more irritable, stress takes a toll on our bodies. It is the leading cause of innumerable diseases, and can be single-handedly responsible for symptoms such as hair loss, high blood pressure, headaches, depression, drastic weight changes, ulcers, and more. So, next time you feel the need to pop a chill pill, try one of these more natural remedies instead.
Lavender. If you ever have trouble falling asleep at night, try spritzing some lavender essential oil into the nighttime air. Lavender helps calm anxiety and can soothe the mind and body to help you sleep more soundly. Intrigued? Aromatherapy has been shown to trigger various moods and sensations, and can be used to fight depression, fatigue, anxiety, headaches, indigestion, et cetera. Find a specialist near you to learn more.
Sweet Potato. What do you normally reach for when you’re stressed out? Probably sweets or salty carbs, I’d gamble. Next time, try some sweet potato instead. It will kill your cravings, satisfy your frenzied emotions, and help you digest more slowly due to their high fiber content. Plus, there will be no post-splurge guilt, as there would be if you ate a huge piece (or two) of cake. If you are really craving comfort food, try steamed and mashed sweet potatoes with a dash of coconut milk. Yum!
Chamomile. Chamomile tea has been shown to relax the body and muscles before sleep. Although chamomile’s benefits have not been medically proven, it has been used for centuries for its sedative qualities as well as an immune booster. Go ahead and brew up a pot of fresh tea to give your body a helping hand. Even better, add some raw honey into your tea (once it has cooled to drinking temperature to retain raw honey’s beneficial enzymes) for an additional boost.
Dark Chocolate. As if you need another reason to enjoy chocolate! A recent study has shown that eating 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate lowers your body’s stress hormones and reduces anxiety. The stress hormone cortisol, in particular, can easily become imbalanced and lead to long term disease and disfunction. It is well known that too much cortisol can also lead to accumulated belly fat, so, in a way, a small piece of chocolate a day could help to keep the belly fat at bay! (OK, it’s a lot more complicated than that, but a girl can dream.) Also, your brain releases endorphins when you nibble chocolate, so it’s a double-whammy of happiness! Just be sure to enjoy in moderation.
St. John’s Wort. Useful if you’re feeling down-and-out, this herb has been shown to significantly increase mood and attitude in patients with mild depression. It has been used for centuries as a natural anti-depressant and is a fairly ubiquitous plant, often regarded as a weed. However, be sure to consult your doctor before adding any new herbs or regimens into your diet to avoid allergic reaction or misdiagnosis.
Peanut Butter. If you aren’t getting enough sleep and are feeling cranky, grab a spoonful of organic, unsweetened peanut butter. Being high in vitamin B6, it helps to regulate blood sugar, which stabilizes mood swings. And, of course, peanut butter is another great comfort food. Just don’t go out of control. If those 6 remedies aren’t enough for you, some other excellent ideas are practicing yoga or meditation, regular exercise, enjoying a hot bath, or even writing in a personal journal. Relieving yourself of stress will make your life a lot healthier and more enjoyable. If you are stressed out and are reaching for the tub of cookie dough ice cream, try one of the 6 aforementioned edibles instead. Take time for yourself, let your mind relax, and enjoy a bit of this crazy ride we call life.
By Jordyn Cormier

Jordyn is a choreographer, freelance writer, and an avid outdoors woman. Having received her B.F.A. in Contemporary Dance from the Boston Conservatory, she is passionate about maintaining a healthy body, mind, and soul through food and fitness. A lover of adventure, Jordyn can often be found hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, and making herself at home in the backcountry! Check out what else Jordyn has been up to at jordyncormier.com. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Excellent Health is found along your journey and not just at your destination. Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your Health Issues or Problems and how HealthyHighway can help YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life? Please complete the information on our Contact Us page to schedule your consultation today! I look forward to helping YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life! Live Well! Leesa Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.HealthyHighway.org

consult ~ www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html

chews ~ www.Chews4Health.com/Leesa

enjoy ~ www.Chewcolat.com

follow ~ www.twitter.com/HealthyHighway

learn ~ www.healthyhighway.wordpress.com

like ~ www.tinyurl.com/Facebook-HealthyHighway

join ~ www.tinyurl.com/googleplusHealthyHighway

link ~ www.linkedin.com/in/leesawheeler

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The 8 Most Nutrient-Dense Foods on Earth

The 8 Most Nutrient-Dense Foods on Earth

We  all know  which foods to avoid (right?). Despite the alluring  appeal of Oreos, Mountain  Dew or McAnything, processed foods provide  little nutrition and a whole lot of  risks. But when it comes to the good  stuff — what are the best foods to put  into our bodies? While experts all  agree we need a variety of foods for a  healthy diet, do you know which  are the healthiest of the bunch? The answers  may surprise and delight  you.

1. Spirulina: While the thought of eating lake algae  might  gross you out, spirulina is actually pretty tasty, especially  blended into a  smoothie or hidden in a chocolate bar. It has more  antioxidants than any other  food on earth and is loaded with protein and  minerals, making it the most  nutrient dense food.

2. Kale: According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, kale is the  most  nutritious food, loaded with minerals, vitamins, fiber and amino  acids, as well  as important antioxidants that reduce inflammation and  can prevent cancer. It’s  also delicious and an easy  to prepare,  versatile food.

3. Hemp Seeds: What do you get when you combine  protein,  fiber, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, amino acids,  vitamins and minerals?  Hemp, of course. This easily digestible seed is  versatile, easy to use and  extremely tasty, too.

4. Chocolate: Yes, you read right. Cacao beans are so nutrient-dense that scientists haven’t even begun to identify all the  benefits  in the little bean yet. Don’t grab a Snickers though—the good  stuff is found  only in raw cacao beans or nibs (or really, really dark  chocolate). Minerals,  vitamins and tons of antioxidants are great for  your heart, skin, and release  chemicals in the brain that make you feel  like you’re in love. (Leesa recommends Vivani 85% organic dark chocolate!

5. Broccoli: Mom was right, you should eat your  broccoli if  you want a healthy digestive system and to decrease your  risk of cancer.  Broccoli has a wide range of yumminess too, from soups  and stews to stir  fry.

6. Spinach: Popeye was onto something with that spinach   fixation. But skip the canned stuff and stick with fresh or frozen for  an  antioxidant, protein and fiber-rich burst of healthy goodness. Fresh  or cooked,  spinach’s sweet and hardy flavor brightens any meal.

7. Chia: The Aztec warriors may have died out, but  their  legacy is alive and strong in the chia  seed. This yummy,  unassuming ancient favorite is loaded with omega fats,  protein and  fiber. Dr. Weil says it’s a better choice than flax because “chia  is so  rich in antioxidants that the seeds don’t deteriorate and can be stored   for long periods without becoming rancid.”

8. Berries: Unlike other fruit, berries tend to be less  sugary and full of vital vitamins, minerals and those free-radical  avenging  antioxidants. Wild berries are always a great choice,  especially black  raspberries.

(Leesa recommends Chews-4-Health™!  Chews-4-Health™ Chewable Dietary Supplement is a delicious tasting, doctor formulated, natural chewable dietary supplement derived from the most nutrient-rich sources from around the world!  (Goji, Noni, Acai, Mangosteen, B12, Resveratrol, Folic Acid, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Dulse, Kelp, Bladderwrack, Nori, Raspberry, Blueberry, Cranberry, Pomegranate.)  Chews-4-Health™ brings together 16 ingredients from land and sea, uniting the antioxidant powers of exotic, life-enhancing super fruits with mineral-rich sea vegetables.  Fruits and berries offer tremendous health enhancing qualities and contain hundreds of naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, enzymes, essential fatty acids, fiber phytonutrients. The 4 “Super Fruits” contained in Chews-4-Health™ are considered by many experts to be the most nutrient rich fruits the world has to offer. Our carefully selected super-fruit complex gives you the power of all 4 in one supplement.*

Antioxidants work by neutralizing the damaging effects of free radicals, rendering them harmless to your body. This helps protect your skin and body from the ravaging effects of premature aging*.  Chews-4-Health™ can be taken by the entire family, including children and pregnant women.  Chews-4-Health™ helps fill that empty nutritional void for those that don’t eat the recommended 4-9 servings of fruit/vegetables per day.   *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. )

Written by Jill  Ettinger, Contributor to Holistic  Nutrition on AllThingsHealing.com

All Things Healing (allthingshealing.com) is an online  portal and community dedicated to informing and educating people across the  globe about alternative healing of mind, body, spirit and the planet at large.  We are committed to bringing together a worldwide community of individuals and  organizations who are working to heal themselves, each other, and the world. We  offer 39 healing categories, 80 plus editors who are experts in their fields, a  forum for each category, and an extensive “Find Practitioners” listing. Our  Costa Rica Learning Center and Spiritual Retreat is coming soon. Join  us!

10 Food Swaps to Lower Blood Pressure

10 Food Swaps to Lower Blood Pressure

 

While blood pressure raises and lowers naturally, sustained elevation —  otherwise known as high  blood pressure, or hypertension — can damage your heart, kidneys,  and even brain.

More than 65 million Americans have the condition — caused by  stress, aging, a poor diet, not enough exercise, obesity,  smoking, or  just plain genetics — and which can be managed in part by cutting  back  on sodium, according to the American  Heart Association.

The recommended daily allowance of sodium is no more than 2,300 mg —  about 1  teaspoon of table salt — which adds up fast. These switches —  also good for  those who want to maintain low blood pressure — can help  you cut your salt  intake without sacrificing flavor.

1. Say No to Pre-Packaged Frozen Dinners They’re quick  and easy to prepare, but many frozen meals also pack a   huge sodium punch — as  much as 1,800 mg in one dish, according to MSNBC.com — and many of  them don’t have enough vegetables  to help you meet your  daily  requirements. For fast meals on busy nights,  freeze leftovers or  try make-ahead  casseroles that go from freezer to oven to  table with a  minimum of  effort (like Emeril’s Mexican  Chicken Tortilla version) to make sure  you’re  getting the right  nutrients.

Worst case: Look for low-sodium, organic frozen meals.

2. Trade Salt for Spices, Vinegar, or Fruit Juice Start  by adding fresh or dried herbs and spices — like rosemary, basil,  dill, oregano, hot peppers, thyme — lemon  or lime juice, flavored  vinegars, and garlic in place of salt in your favorite  recipes.

 

 

3. Try Oil and Vinegar For Salads Salads,  sandwiches,  and stir-frys are often healthier than other dinner  options,  but you can  inadvertently add too much sodium by pouring on ketchup,  mustard, soy sauce, and salad  dressings. Try simple olive oil and balsamic  vinegar  on your greens, use fresh  tomatoes on your burger, and look  for low-sodium  versions of other  condiments — or just make sure to  watch your portions (one  tablespoon  of regular ketchup has a whopping  160-190 mg of sodium). Some  companies  do the work for you, though: This  spring, according to the Huffington  Post, Heinz announced that it tweaked  its  classic ketchup recipe to  cut the sodium by 15 percent in response  to new FDA  salt limits.

4. Trade Canned Soup, Broth, and Vegetables For   Homemade Canned goods are notoriously high in sodium — one serving   can have as much as half your daily allowance — so you might be paying  for the  convenience. Soups and broths are easy enough to make yourself once you realize that they  pretty much  require two things — water and time — and you can flavor  them with vegetables,  herbs, and spices for low-cost meals that feed a  crowd. Many companies also  offer low-sodium or no-salt-added versions of  popular soups, broths, and  vegetables (but check the sodium levels on  your frozen  vegetables, too, especially if they come with  seasonings or sauces:  sodium often sneaks into those).

Try canning or freezing your own vegetables during the summer to eat  all  winter.

 

 

5. Avoid the Brine Pickles,  olives, sauerkraut, and just about any  other  vegetables that come in a  brine may not feel unhealthy,  but those  brines were designed to  preserve the food — which means  there’s plenty of sodium floating around. Limit your indulgence in  these  foods, and try your hand at canning  your own pickles from fresh cucumbers to  be sure  you know exactly  how much salt you’re eating.

6. Cut Down on Cured Meats Bacon,  ham, salami, and other cured meats are another  sodium obstacle:  According to the NIH  DASH eating plan, 3 ounces of lean meat, fish, or  poultry contains  between 30 and 90 mg of sodium, while the same amount of  roasted ham contains 1,020 mg. Eat cured meats sparingly and replace  them with fresh chicken, pork,  fish, or even no-salt-added canned tuna. Watch  out for smoked and  processed versions, too — they’ll also increase your sodium  levels.

7. Reach for Unsalted Popcorn Over Salty Snacks It  doesn’t take a dietitian to realize that salty snacks are higher in  sodium than  sweet ones — that’s something your tastebuds can probably  tell you all by  themselves. In a perfect world, you’d replace all those cravings for crackers,   chips, and pretzels with fresh  fruit slices and carrot sticks — but when you just  can’t resist a  snack attack, look for healthier versions, like no-salt popcorn,  low-sodium crackers, or unsalted chips.

8. Substitute Whole Wheat Flour For White Flour Choosing whole  wheat pasta, rice, bread, cereal, and snacks can help  lower blood  pressure in several ways: You’ll be skipping a lot of processed and  salted foods by default (since many of them are made with white flour),  and  they can help you lose weight, which lowers your risk of developing  many  health conditions (including high blood pressure). Make oatmeal, rice, and pasta  without adding salt to the cooking  water, and you could end up with as little  as 5 mg of sodium per  serving. (Leesa recommends The Pure Wraps made from Coconut and Quinoa for those who need to eat Gluten-Free!)

 

 

9. Say No to Buttermilk Buttermilk has more than twice as much sodium as a cup of  its less-flavorful  cousin, low-fat milk, which means you could be adding a lot  more than  just taste to those pancakes. Stick with regular milk and natural  (not  processed) cheese as part of a low-sodium diet, since they also contain   blood-pressure-lowering potassium.

10. Stock Up on Dark Chocolate Okay, here’s  one piece of  good news: Dark  chocolate doesn’t need to go on your list of foods to  avoid, since  some studies have shown that the flavanols it contains can help  lower  blood pressure by helping dilate blood vessels. As with any treat,  you don’t want to eat too much of it — but in small  amounts, it can  have health benefits that go beyond a sugar  rush. (Leesa recommends Vivani 85% Org Dark Chocolate!)

By Blythe Copeland, TreeHugger

 

 

 

10 Food Swaps to Lower Blood Pressure

10 Food Swaps to Lower Blood Pressure

 

While blood pressure raises and lowers naturally, sustained elevation — otherwise known as high blood pressure, or hypertension — can damage your heart, kidneys, and even brain.

More than 65 million Americans have the condition — caused by stress, aging, a poor diet, not enough exercise, obesity, smoking, or just plain genetics — and which can be managed in part by cutting back on sodium, according to the American Heart Association.

The recommended daily allowance of sodium is no more than 2,300 mg — about 1 teaspoon of table salt — which adds up fast. These switches — also good for those who want to maintain low blood pressure — can help you cut your salt intake without sacrificing flavor.

1. Say No to Pre-Packaged Frozen Dinners
They’re quick and easy to prepare, but many frozen meals also pack a huge sodium punch — as much as 1,800 mg in one dish, according to MSNBC.com — and many of them don’t have enough vegetables to help you meet your daily requirements. For fast meals on busy nights, freeze leftovers or try make-ahead casseroles that go from freezer to oven to table with a minimum of effort (like Emeril’s Mexican Chicken Tortilla version) to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients.

Worst case: Look for low-sodium, organic frozen meals.

2. Trade Salt for Spices, Vinegar, or Fruit Juice
Start by adding fresh or dried herbs and spices — like rosemary, basil, dill, oregano, hot peppers, thyme — lemon or lime juice, flavored vinegars, and garlic in place of salt in your favorite recipes.

3. Try Oil and Vinegar For Salads
Salads, sandwiches, and stir-frys are often healthier than other dinner options, but you can inadvertently add too much sodium by pouring on ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, and salad dressings. Try simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar on your greens, use fresh tomatoes on your burger, and look for low-sodium versions of other condiments — or just make sure to watch your portions (one tablespoon of regular ketchup has a whopping 160-190 mg of sodium). Some companies do the work for you, though: This spring, according to the Huffington Post, Heinz announced that it tweaked its classic ketchup recipe to cut the sodium by 15 percent in response to new FDA salt limits.

4. Trade Canned Soup, Broth, and Vegetables For Homemade
Canned goods are notoriously high in sodium — one serving can have as much as half your daily allowance — so you might be paying for the convenience. Soups and broths are easy enough to make yourself once you realize that they pretty much require two things — water and time — and you can flavor them with vegetables, herbs, and spices for low-cost meals that feed a crowd. Many companies also offer low-sodium or no-salt-added versions of popular soups, broths, and vegetables (but check the sodium levels on your frozen vegetables, too, especially if they come with seasonings or sauces: sodium often sneaks into those).

Try canning or freezing your own vegetables during the summer to eat all winter.

5. Avoid the Brine
Pickles, olives, sauerkraut, and just about any other vegetables that come in a brine may not feel unhealthy, but those brines were designed to preserve the food — which means there’s plenty of sodium floating around. Limit your indulgence in these foods, and try your hand at canning your own pickles from fresh cucumbers to be sure you know exactly how much salt you’re eating.

6. Cut Down on Cured Meats
Bacon, ham, salami, and other cured meats are another sodium obstacle: According to the NIH DASH eating plan, 3 ounces of lean meat, fish, or poultry contains between 30 and 90 mg of sodium, while the same amount of roasted ham contains 1,020 mg. Eat cured meats sparingly and replace them with fresh chicken, pork, fish, or even no-salt-added canned tuna. Watch out for smoked and processed versions, too — they’ll also increase your sodium levels.

7. Reach for Unsalted Popcorn Over Salty Snacks
It doesn’t take a dietitian to realize that salty snacks are higher in sodium than sweet ones — that’s something your tastebuds can probably tell you all by themselves. In a perfect world, you’d replace all those cravings for crackers, chips, and pretzels with fresh fruit slices and carrot sticks — but when you just can’t resist a snack attack, look for healthier versions, like no-salt popcorn, low-sodium crackers, or unsalted chips.

8. Substitute Whole Wheat Flour For White Flour
Choosing whole wheat pasta, rice, bread, cereal, and snacks can help lower blood pressure in several ways: You’ll be skipping a lot of processed and salted foods by default (since many of them are made with white flour), and they can help you lose weight, which lowers your risk of developing many health conditions (including high blood pressure). Make oatmeal, rice, and pasta without adding salt to the cooking water, and you could end up with as little as 5 mg of sodium per serving.

9. Say No to Buttermilk
Buttermilk has more than twice as much sodium as a cup of its less-flavorful cousin, low-fat milk, which means you could be adding a lot more than just taste to those pancakes. Stick with regular milk and natural (not processed) cheese as part of a low-sodium diet, since they also contain blood-pressure-lowering potassium.

10. Stock Up on Dark Chocolate
Okay, here’s one piece of good news: Dark chocolate doesn’t need to go on your list of foods to avoid, since some studies have shown that the flavanols it contains can help lower blood pressure by helping dilate blood vessels. As with any treat, you don’t want to eat too much of it — but in small amounts, it can have health benefits that go beyond a sugar rush.

By Blythe Copeland, TreeHuggerPlanet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, planetgreen.com and TreeHugger.com, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.

Chocolate: Fact vs. Fiction

Chocolate: Fact vs. Fiction

A new study reported in WebMD leaves health professionals questioning results. First off, the study was conducted by Hershey Company (ah what?) and published in Chemistry Central Journal. The study compares the total flavonol and polyphenol content as well as antioxidant activity content of cocoa powder and dark chocolate vs. superfoods like acai, blueberry, cranberry, and pomegranate.

Researchers found a higher level of antioxidant activity in cocoa powder than some of the other antioxidant-laden superfoods to which it was compared. But a review of the story and study on Health News Review brings up some important questions. For example, most chocolate sold in the U.S. is nothing more than sugary candy, including Hershey’s candy bars. And even more importantly, serving size matters. If you eat an entire candy bar, whether it’s dark chocolate or not, expect an expanded waistline, rather than the benefits of antioxidants.


Separate Dark Chocolate Fact From Fiction

 1. It’s Cocoa Not Dark Chocolate That Has Antioxidants

The story in WebMD did make a clear distinction between milk chocolate and dark chocolate when it comes to health benefits. But the fact of the matter is that it’s much more than just milk chocolate versus dark chocolate. Dark chocolate itself doesn’t supply the antioxidant value; it’s the cocoa powder that it’s made with. So in order to get the antioxidant benefits outlined in the study, there must be a high percentage of cocoa. The chocolate should be Fair Trade certified, organic, and be at least 70 percent cocoa. Avoid any filling like peanut butter, which could be laced with hydrogenated oils.

2. How Small is the Serving Size?

The serving size is incredibly important here. It’s normally a tiny square of chocolate within the chocolate bar, and depending on the size of the chocolate bar, there can be between 4 and 12 servings. If you’re not careful you can really overdo this, meaning that the saturated fats and sugar content can outweigh any benefits that you might have enjoyed beforehand. Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen, authors of YOU: On a Diet, answered some important questions on the specifics of dark chocolate consumption. According to the article in the Sun Setinel, you don’t need a whole bar to get a healthy dose of antioxidants. The flavonoids in dark chocolate are so powerful that a daily piece the size of a Hershey’s Kiss can lower your blood pressure. While this is an ideal size comparison, it’s not a good quality comparison as written above.

3. The Price Is Much Different with Real Dark Chocolate

When compared to a conventional candy chocolate bar found in the candy aisle, real dark chocolate with known health benefits is much more expensive. Projections for world food prices show that the cost of chocolate is going up, up, up and real dark chocolate, already averages between $3 and $8 per bar.

4. Find the Benefits of Cocoa in Other Places

Sometimes a candy bar isn’t the best place to find the benefits of this known antioxidant. One of my favorite places to find it is in whole leaf tea. Use a French press to seep the tea leaves for at least 7 minutes. Add a touch of cream and raw sugar and you have the essence of delicious dark chocolate that’s much easier on your waistline. You can also enjoy cocoa by adding the unsweetened raw cocoa powder to a smoothie in the morning.

(Leesa recommends Chewcolat!  It’s the best of both worlds,  amazing acai, blueberry, cranberry, and pomegranate found in www.chews4health.com/Leesa and just the right amount of natural dark chocolate!  Learn more and place your order at www.chewcolat.com!)

By Sara Novak, Planet Green

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, planetgreen.com and TreeHugger.com, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.

Slather Your Lips With DIY Cocoa Lip Balm

Slather Your Lips With DIY Cocoa Lip Balm

Slather Your Lips With DIY Cocoa Lip Balm

What could be better than protecting your lips from the winter’s chill by slathering on chocolate? Not much, and I bet if you went to the Environmental Working Group’s, Skin Deep website and checked out what’s lurking in lipstick (lead, yikes!) you’d ditch the lipstick and opt for healthy, homemade Cocoa Lip Balm. Here at Care2 we’ve posted about all that nastiness here and here.

Why Cocoa?

The cocoa bean is used to make chocolate. It’s made from roasted, husked, and ground seeds of the cacao bean, theobroma cacao, from which much of the fat has been removed. Cocoa contains large amounts of antioxidants. According to Your Daily Thread:

“Cocoa contains large amounts of antioxidants. According to research at Cornell, cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times those found in green tea. Our super friend also contains magnesium, iron, chromium, vitamin C, zinc and more.”

Antioxidants that protects the body from aging, vitamins and minerals for overall health and…chocolate. Sign me up. In fact, my husband so sweetly made this Lip Balm for everyone on his holiday list after he read this. It was a huge hit! Try this recipe for healthy Cocoa Lip Balm that will make you smacking your lips for more:

DIY Cocoa Lip Balm

What you need:

1 teaspoon beeswax
2 teaspoons pure Fair Trade organic cocoa butter
3 teaspoons organic coconut or olive oil
5-10 drops peppermint essential oil
recycled containers

What to do:

Slowly melt ingredients in a double boiler or in 30-second spurts in microwave. Cool slightly and fill recycled containers. You may need to adjust the ratio of ingredients to suit your liking. Yum!

by Ronnie Citron-Fink

Ronnie Citron-Fink is a writer and educator. Ronnie regularly writes about sustainable living for online sites and magazines. Along with being the creator of www.econesting.com, Ronnie has contributed to numerous books about green home design, DIY, children, and humor. Ronnie lives in the Hudson Valley of New York with her family.

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