Category: Food & Nutrition

9 Amazing Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate

benefits-of-chocolate

There are now even more reasons for chocolate lovers to keep eating chocolate! As more astonishing research comes in, the substance is going from a bad-for-you treat to a significant health food. Those of us who’ve continued to indulge in occasional chocolate treats can now easily justify our cravings and quit feeling so guilty!

Below you will discover the 9 proven health benefits of chocolate.

1. Decreases Your Risk Of Heart Disease

You may have already discovered that chocolate contains beneficial flavonoids and antioxidants. Flavonoids are naturally occurring compounds found in plant foods which are full of established health benefits. There are more than 4,000 flavonoid compounds, which are a subgroup of compounds called polyphenols. Phenols are believed to help decrease the chance of heart disease by helping prevent atherosclerosis. The flavonoids in chocolate appear to aid the body use nitric oxide, which is crucial for blood pressure regulation and healthy blood flow, which suggests that chocolate might help reduce hypertension as well.

2. High In Cancer-Fighting Antioxidants

Red wine is known for its high phenol content, however an average bar of dark chocolate contains more phenols than 8 ounces of red wine. Scientists at Seoul National University and Cornell University examined the cancer-fighting antioxidant content of red wine, cocoa, and tea, and found that cocoa had almost double the antioxidants of red wine and four to five times more than tea.

Holland’s National Institute of Public Health and Environment found that dark chocolate contains 53.5 mg of catechins per 100 grams. (Catechins are the powerful antioxidants that fight against cancer and assist in preventing heart disease). By comparison, a cup of black tea comprises only about 14 milligrams of catechins and green tea has about 30 mg of catechins.

3. Has Anti-Clotting / Blood Thinning Properties

A study at the University of California found that participants who ate chocolate revealed a reduction in platelet activity. What this means is that chocolate has an anti-clotting, blood-thinning effect that may be compared to aspirin.

4. Helps You Live Longer

A Harvard University study of 8,000 people, with an average age of 65, revealed that those who ate chocolate lived almost a year more than those who didn’t.

5. Lowers Blood Pressure

A study of elderly men in The Netherlands, known for it’s high chocolate intake, showed that those who ate the most chocolate, an equivalent of one-third of a chocolate bar every day, had lower blood pressure. The researchers also noted the guys eating the most chocolate weren’t heavier compared to the men who ate less.

6. Boosts Brain Power

And it’s not just dark chocolate that’s the sole healthful kind of chocolate. Most studies talk about the advantages of dark chocolate, but some of the very most recent news about chocolate contains great news for milk chocolate lovers, who have been left out in the past.

The Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia did a study that reveals that milk chocolate seems to boost brainpower. The groups in the evaluation had milk chocolate, dark chocolate and carob on occasion. Subsequently they were tested for cognitive performance including reaction time, attention span, memory and problem solving.

The study found that consumption of milk and dark chocolate was correlated with increased reaction time and improved impulse control. It appears that by consuming chocolate you get beneficial effects from substances found in chocolate, like theobromine and phenylethylamine, which increase mental operation.

7. Makes You Feel Good

Chocolate really does make you feel good. It is well known to trigger the secretion of endorphins, creating a pleasurable sensation much like the “runner’s high” a jogger feels after running several miles. Chocolate also has a neurotransmitter, serotonin that acts as an anti-depressant. Studies in England show that even the aroma of chocolate provides a feeling of euphoria and will assist to lift the spirits.

8. Good For The Skin

And now individuals are taking a look at chocolate for skin care. According to Marlies Spinale, director of Tru Spa, “Like many other antioxidants, cocoa polyphenols are thought to give the skin protection from free radical damage due to sunlight, pollution, stress, alcohol consumption and other factors. I believe that we will discover more regarding the benefits of chocolate in skin care.”

9. Nutrient Rich

Because one of the primary ingredients of chocolate is cocoa butter, many people have been staying away from chocolate. Actually, cocoa butter is healthy, although it was once believed that it was an unhealthy fat. It’s composed of the beneficial fatty acids – oleic acid (a heart healthy monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil), stearic and palmitic acids. Stearic and palmitic acids are healthy forms of saturated fat. Plus chocolate contains vitamins A, B1, C, D, and E, along with potassium, sodium, and iron.

Conclusion

So go ahead and indulge in chocolate, in moderation of course. I’d advise that you simply make an effort to seek out organic chocolate, and stick with darker chocolate because it has less sugar and more beneficial flavonoids. (Sugar weakens the immune system; so do not have sugar if you are sick.) When you need an occasional milk chocolate brainpower boost, like before a test, a bit of milk chocolate is all you need.

If you want to buy organic dark chocolate, then there’s a great selection at Amazon with great customer reviews.

Chocolate as a health food – Can life get any better?

10 Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin

turmericWhile many people think of turmeric only as the primary spice used in most curry recipes, it actually provides a wide range of health benefits. In fact, turmeric is perhaps the strongest herb available, when it comes to natural ingredients that are capable of curing illness and improving your health.

There is a growing trend to turn to natural herbs and home remedies for dealing with all types of ailments and health issues. Some people may put off using additional herbs in their meals, due to the overwhelming number of available ingredients. Luckily, you may only need to add one extra herb to your cupboard to begin changing your health for the better.

Discover the many health benefits of turmeric and curcumin – the active compound in this powerful herb.

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a spice that is commonly used in Indian cuisine, especially in curry. It is actually the turmeric that gives curry powder and mustard their distinct yellow colors. Most people find that turmeric has a bitter flavor and mild fragrance.

Turmeric is typically sold in powder form, which comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant; though, some prefer to grind their own powder from fresh turmeric root.

This spice has been used for thousands of years in recipes and for medicinal purposes – often as an anti-inflammatory medicine in both traditional Chinese and Indian medicine. So, it is no secret that turmeric contains beneficial properties.

Curcumin is the primary active compound that is found in turmeric and is responsible for the majority of the health benefits. It is a strong anti-inflammatory compound that possesses many characteristics that have sparked the interest of the medical community.

In recent years, turmeric has been one of the most researched ingredients, as doctors have looked to uncover all of the potential health benefits of turmeric and curcumin. Over 6,000 articles have been published discussing the healing powers of this herb.

Here is a closer look at some of the health benefits of turmeric and curcumin that have been verified through scientific studies and research.

#1 – Fight Inflammation and Chronic Pain

One of the most widely recognized health benefits of turmeric and curcumin is the ability to fight inflammation. According to a study published in the journal Oncogene, curcumin is perhaps the most powerful, natural anti-inflammatory compounds. It was found to be more effective than aspirin or ibuprofen at fighting inflammation and treating chronic pain.

Not only is it more effective than common over-the-counter pain medications, it does not possess any of the side effects associated with the pain-relievers. You can enjoy fast pain-relief, without having to worry about the potential for harmful side effects.

#2 – Relieve Arthritis Pain

The anti-inflammatory properties found in turmeric can also help people manage their rheumatoid arthritis. Curcumin can suppress an inflammatory compound referred to as cytokine, which is partially responsible for the pain related to rheumatoid arthritis.

#3 – Prevent or Manage Diabetes

Several studies have suggested that consuming turmeric on a regular basis can help to lower blood glucose levels and reverse insulin resistance. Curcumin can suppress the production of glucose in the liver.

These same studies concluded that curcumin can be up to 400 times more effective than a common diabetes drug for improving metabolic function and reducing the risk of plaque buildup. This is another example of turmeric being more effective than common medications for treating a serious condition.

#4 – Treat Depression

A number of studies have examined the ability of turmeric to treat depression and anxiety. In one study, 60 patients were divided into three groups. One group took a gram of turmeric each day, another group took Prozac, and a third group took both Prozac and turmeric.

At the end of six weeks, patients that took only turmeric or only Prozac noted about the same level of relief from their symptoms. However, the group that took both Prozac and turmeric noted the most pronounced benefits. The researchers concluded that turmeric may be just as beneficial as an antidepressant – but again, without the potential for side effects.

#5 – Protect Your Skin and Fight the Signs of Aging

The anti-inflammatory properties contained in curcumin can prevent skin irritation, soothe irritated skin, reduce redness, and act as an antibacterial agent. It can be used to treat acne and blemishes or to restore your skin balance. The antioxidants found in turmeric can destroy harmful free radicals and protect your skin from damage, helping your skin retain its elasticity and prevent wrinkles.

#6 – Improve Your Brain Function

Consuming turmeric regularly can increase the levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which is a growth hormone found in the brain. Increasing the levels of BDNF is known to help reduce the risk of various brain disorders and improve brain function.

#7 – Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

The same properties responsible for improving brain function may also help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Inflammation and oxidative damage are two factors that play a major role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin can help prevent both of these issues, but the greater benefit may come from preventing the buildup of Amyloid plaques.

#8 – Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease

Curcumin can help improve the lining of blood vessels, reduce inflammation, and fight oxidation – which will reduce the risk of heart disease. By reducing the oxidation of cholesterol in the body, there less of a risk of plaque buildup which leads to heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke.

Turmeric is also a great source of vitamin B6, which can prevent homocysteine levels from getting too high. Having high levels of homocysteine has been shown to be a risk factor for additional blood vessel damage.

#9 – Prevent Certain Types of Cancer

Hundreds of studies have examined the health benefits of turmeric and curcumin for treating cancer. Free radicals are known to cause oxidative stress and promote the growth of cancerous cells. Since curcumin has the ability to fight free radicals, it can help prevent various forms of cancer. Curcumin shows promise as an ingredient for fighting colon cancer, liver cancer, prostate cancer, and childhood leukemia.

#10 – Increase Your Overall Health and Lifespan

The health benefits of turmeric and curcumin include reducing the risk of heart disease, improving brain function, preventing Alzheimer’s disease, strengthening the immune system, among dozens of other benefits. These advantages can help you live a long, healthy life.

How Can You Consume Turmeric?

The health benefits described only cover a portion of the reasons for purchasing some fresh turmeric. It has far-reaching health benefits with very little risk of side effect. Though, some people do experience nausea, diarrhea, and stomach irritability, after consuming large quantities of the spice.

So, how should you consume turmeric and how much should you use? While there are turmeric supplements available, the best option is to use fresh turmeric. You can either purchase turmeric powder or grind fresh turmeric root.

Obviously, you can use turmeric in your curry recipes, but there are plenty of other ways to consume the spice. You can steep 1 gram of dried turmeric root in a cup of hot water to make your own turmeric tea. Some people add the powder to their smoothies or use it in seasonings for meats. Another option is to add a teaspoon of fresh turmeric powder to a soup or stew.

Where Can I Buy Turmeric?

It does not matter how you use it, just as long as you include this spice your diet. The health benefits of turmeric and curcumin are impossible to ignore. This is truly one of the most powerful spices on Earth. If you take your health seriously, then you owe it to yourself to grab some turmeric the next time you visit the grocery store.

If you want to buy a turmeric extract supplement, then there’s a great selection at Amazon with great customer reviews.

What Is Creatine Used For And What Are It’s Side-Effects?

creatineCreatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that is created in our body by the kidneys and liver, and is obtained via the diet from animal sources or created directly in the body from the amino acids: L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine.

Creatine (creatine monohydrate) is a crystalline, colorless substance which is used by the muscles for the production of phosphocreatine, a vital factor needed in the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the direct energy source for muscle contraction and several other important body functions.

What does creatine do in the body?

Inside the body, creatine gets converted into phosphocreatine, which acts as a storage reservoir for quick-release energy. Phosphocreatine is important within the tissues of the nervous system and muscles which require large amounts of readily available energy.

Why do people take creatine?

Several studies have shown that creatine increases performance of athletes when they require quick bursts of energy, such as when sprinting or weight training and also helps with muscle recovery speed.

With more energy available to your muscles and a faster recovery time, athletes can train harder and more often, producing faster results.

Chad kerksick, Ph.D., and assistant professor of exercise physiology at the University of Oklahoma says “If you can lift one or two more reps or 5 more pounds, your muscles will get bigger and stronger.”

Creatine is also used by professional bodybuilders because it helps to increase muscle mass. It’s not well-suited for endurance exercise since it doesn’t effect muscle endurance. However, the increase in muscle mass might be due to water retention rather than an actual increase in the muscle tissue itself.

What is the connection between creatine and neuromuscular disorders?

There are 2 studies that suggest creatine might have a beneficial effect on neuromuscular disorders. The first, conducted by m. Flint Beal of the Cornell University Medical Center showed that creatine was twice as effective as Riluzole (a prescription drug) in extending the lifespan of mice with the degenerative neural disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

The second study, conducted by researchers at the McMaster University Medical Center in Canada discovered that creatine causes a noticeable increase in strength in people with certain neuromuscular disorders. Their findings were published both in the Nature Neuroscience and Neurology magazines.

Creatine may also be helpful in slowing the progression of Parkinson’s disease. In mice, creatine was able to prevent the loss of cells that are typically affected by the condition.

Is it safe to take a creatine supplement?

Recently, there’s been a couple reports of kidney damage linked to creatine use, but for the most part, there hasn’t been any adverse side-effected experienced by athletes. There has also been no consistent toxicity reports on the studies done on creatine supplementation. There is however, a problem of dehydration being reported while taking creatine supplements.

So if you do choose to take creatine, remember to drink enough water to prevent dehydration, especially if you are engaging in sports or other intense physical activity.

Professional athletes typically take a “loading dosage” of around 20 grams a day of creatine for 5-6 days and then continue with a maintenance dose of between 2-5 grams a day thereafter.

What are the side-effects of taking creatine?

Not much is known about the long-term side effects of taking creatine. In one study, diarrhea was the most common reported side-effect followed by muscle cramps.

Other reports have shown that liver and kidney functioning were not affected by short-term use of creatine in higher amounts or by lower amounts taken long-term in healthy young adults.

One small study of people consuming 5-30 grams of creatine a day showed no change in kidney function after up to 5 years of supplementation. Muscle cramping was anecdotally reported in some of these studies.

Other side-effects from using creatine that have been reported in rare cases include weight gain, anxiety, difficulty breathing, fatigue, fever, headaches, nausea, rash and stomach upsets.

Creatine supplementation is not recommended for people with liver or kidney disease, or diabetes. It should also be avoided by people under then age of 18 and women who are pregnant or nursing.

Where Can I Buy Creatine?

We recommend Muscle Advance Creatine Monohydrate. It contains 4500mg of creatine in every serving which will promote an increased workout capacity and supports healthy gains in lean body mass. You can order it online here:

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