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Inflammation

Brain Enhancing* Benefits of The Irresistible Cocoa

Who doesn’t love chocolate? Ok, there are a few, but they’re far and few between. Ha-ha…. I am the first to admit…. I am a chocolate lover. I’m not going to lie- this is one of my favorite subjects to talk about. So, if this is your favorite subject as well, all you have to do is keep on reading and discover more information on cocoa benefits.

As you will see, when it comes to the benefits of cocoa, there are quite a number of interesting facts to discover – for example, did you know that cocoa is rich in antioxidants and thus can enhance* the functioning of the brain? Cocoa brain benefits are plenty, as you will be able to read below.

So what is it that draws us to chocolate, well for many of us, it’s telling us that our body is lacking essential nutrients such as magnesium. That’s why at meal times, it’s recommended that we consume unprocessed, whole foods (recommended), including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, meat, poultry, fish, and dairy.

Let’s not forget, the key component to finding the right chocolate is one that is in its purist form, called raw cacao, also known as “cacao, the food of the gods” in the Greek language. It has a surplus of health benefits that may contribute to weight loss* due to its natural ability to suppress* the appetite. Another important factor is that chocolate has antioxidants along with essential vitamins and minerals, that boost* the metabolism, and therefore, the calories are more in balance.

And to think, I’m now convinced I need to add more chocolate into my daily diet. Then researchers come up with even better news… that chocolate can keep us thin. Yes, they have my attention and here’s what I found out!Scientists from the University of California of San Diego studied nearly 1,000 individuals and found out that those who regularly eat chocolate are thinner than those who just sparingly eat cacao. Of course, they are not saying that eating a few bars a day will help you drop lbs., but due to the antioxidants and ingredients in cacao, can boost* weight loss* and they show lower BMIs.

Chocolate Diet

Then to find out there was such a thing as “The Chocolate Diet”. I thought I had gone to heaven. So what’s behind the so-called “Chocolate Diet, well by allowing yourself just a few chocolate bites per day – can actually make you feel more satisfied and therefore, lead to less chances of binging on those unhealthy treat* options. This leads to reduced* snacking that can aid in weight loss* benefits. According to a small study by the University of Copenhagen, dark chocolate may even reduce* cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods.

The essential minerals include calcium, sulfur, zinc, iron, copper, potassium, and manganese. They contain polyphenols called flavonoids, with antioxidant properties that can offer skin protection against UV damage, along with the following vitamins- B1, B2, B3, B5, B9, and E. It also carries essential heart-healthy fat called oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat, along with protein and fiber.

Raw chocolate has many amazing nutrients that most of us had no idea that our sweet tooth led to creating an abundance of the following healthy attributes Just, remember, there are many benefits of cocoa to discover. The most important ones that you need to keep in mind are the cocoa brain benefits – as cocoa is rich in amazing ingredients, it should come as no surprise that it can stimulate brain health and the overall cognitive function.

1. It can promote cardiovascular health by lowering LDL cholesterol and lowering plaque buildup on the walls of the arteries along with lower risk of heart disease. This is reflected by the benefits of dark chocolate being so heart-healthy and inflammation fighting perks.

2. It may fight diabetes. According to a 2005 Italian study, they found regularly eating chocolate increases* insulin sensitivity and therefore; reducing* the risk for diabetes.

3.It can reduce* blood pressure and enhance* circulation by aiding in the strength of dilation and health of blood vessels.

4. It supports digestion while the cacao moves the production of digestive enzymes in the body.

5. It can balance the free radicals from sun exposure, or pollution by protecting the body through the high level of antioxidants in cacao.

6. It enhances* mental and physical well-being by improving* mood, lowering stress and reducing* depression.

7. It reduces* stroke risk.

Raw Cocao Info

So, How Does Chocolate Boost* Our Brain?

1. It can make you smarter- According to a British study, the cocoa’s flavanols increase* the brain’s blood flow, which seems to make people feel alert and more awake and therefore; perform more efficient on counting tasks and improve* thinking skills. “From laboratory studies, we know that flavanols smooth the way for brain cell connections and survival, and protect brain cells from toxins or the negative effects of inflammation,” says Dr. Miguel Alonso-Alonso, a neuroscientist at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

2. It improves* vision due to the improvement in the blood flow caused by the benefit of chocolate, may increase* blood flow to the retina and therefore; improving* vision.

3. It can quiet a cough, due to the theobromine, an ingredient in chocolate that seems to lower activity of the vagus nerve, the part of the brain that provokes hard to shake off coughing.

4. It can prevent blood clots, and fight cell damage, due to the flavanols in chocolate.

Chocolate Boost* Our Brain

Of course, keep in mind chocolate is high in calories, so according to news out of England, the middle aged to older adults can eat up to 3.5 ounces of chocolate per day to aid in lowering heart disease rates than those who turn down chocolate. Really, who turns down chocolate? The 3.5 ounces are actually more than 2 standard Hershey bars….. According to the European Food Safety Authority, it is suggested that 200 mg of cocoa flavonoids per day is a good target for the general population.The higher the cocoa content of the bar, the more health benefits it will provide, usually bars with 70% cocoa or more.

In summary, knowing the many health benefits that chocolate offers to aid in our goal of being healthier, it’s a win-win. But as I always say, all in moderation. As always, consult your health professional before starting any diet to ensure you are on the right track. When it comes to cocoa benefits, think about its rich content in antioxidants and how this can help your brain to work more efficiently.

Discuss with your family physician about the benefits of cocoa and how you can incorporate it into your daily meals and/or snacks. Ask about the cocoa brain benefits and he/she will certainly confirm these as well.

I hope this article finds you in good health.

Sources:

  • Sweet dreams: eating chocolate prevents heart disease www.health.harvard.edu
  • Cocoa: a sweet treat* for the brain www.health.harvard.edu
  • 2017 Integrative Nutrition, Inc. Learning Library under Dietary Theories
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In-Post Images: Shutterstock & onegreenplanet.org

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Q&A With Inver Grove Heights Lifestyle Health Mentor Connie Stoltz-McDonald Submitted by EatIGH.com

I break down the techniques to the most common weight loss struggles and to fight the battle & make it reality in the following article with EatIGH.com:

Q&A With Inver Grove Heights Lifestyle Health Mentor Connie Stoltz-McDonald

I wanted to share my own personal struggle to loose weight- it happens to all of us…. At one point or another- we need support and the right knowledge to change for good and finally make a lifestyle transformation.

“I have to say the most common struggle is losing weight. When I look back on my own experience, I started running to lose weight. I kept increasing the number of miles I ran to the point of 12 miles a day and I couldn’t figure out why the scale wasn’t showing any results. It was beyond frustrating, but I was determined to figure it out.”

Health Coaches are knowledgeable advisors who provide ongoing support and guidance as you set goals and make sustainable changes that improve your health and happiness. As your Health Coach, I will listen carefully and help you to navigate the world of contradictory nutrition advice to determine what changes are necessary for you.

Your personalized program will radically improve your health and happiness. Together, we will explore concerns specific to you and your body and discover the tools you need for a lifetime of balance.

To decide if health coaching is right for you, I invite you to schedule a free initial consultation with me. 

Schedule: Complimentary Consultation

 

 

Coach Connie

New findings may explain the advantages of polyunsaturated fat

Written by Coach Connie,

Lifestyle Health Mentor

 

When we think of the word “fat”- We remember back to our parents and grandparents using lard for everything they made or putting a huge slab of butter on bread. Back then, we didn’t think anything of it when we were eating fat, whether it was good or bad for us. We just thought it was part of our diet.

Today, no matter where you look – you see news reports saying eat this fat but don’t eat this fat. We’re always trying to find the lowest fat diet. It almost seems as if we all need to be scientists just to figure out what should we eat. So let’s take a look at what polyunsaturated fat is, why it’s good for us and what should we consume to achieve the full benefits.

So, what is polyunsaturated fat and how does it affect our health? It is found in animal and plant foods, which is known as one of the healthier fats, together with monounsaturated fat. The biggest thing to remember is that we want to add in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, which will be replacing saturated fats, commonly found in red meat, butter, cheese, and ice cream; and trans fat, which are unhealthy fats found in partially hydrogenated oil, that could increase health problems such as risk for heart disease. When you reduce the red meat and butter intake, substitute them with fish, beans, nuts, and healthy oils rather than refined carbohydrates. That’s why adding polyunsaturated fats into your diet can help lower your bad cholesterol (LDL), which causes your arteries to become blocked or clogged. It can contribute vitamin E to your diet, which is an antioxidant. By adding more of this healthier fat into our diets, it can boost your overall body, mind and soul, along with your waistline. Now isn’t that a bonus.

This type of fat includes omega-3 and omega-6 fats (EFA’s), which are essential fatty acids that helps our brain function and cell growth. We need to supplement these EFA’s through our food, since our body does not produce this on its own. They protect our heart because they contain EPA and DHA. They lower the risk of fatal heart attacks and sudden cardiac death caused by electrical problems that occur in the heart. By consuming fish, it may reduce the risk of stroke too and keep in mind, it contains vitamin D, healthy proteins, selenium, and other nutrients. It is recommended that you consume at least two 3-4oz servings of fish and seafood, including one serving of oily or dark meat fish per week. As for vegetable oils, it is recommended that you consume 5-6 teaspoons per day, which includes oil found in foods.

Lately, all you hear about is coconut oil or palm oils. Are they really better for you? Well, according to the AHA, there is no real known evidence as of now so, they recommend to stick to vegetable oils, because of the overwhelming evidence they are good for the heart.

So, how does the omega-3 and omega-6 fats work to our benefit?

  1. Lower triglycerides and lowers the risk of having an irregular heartbeat, known as arrhythmia.
  2. Cuts down the buildup of plaque in our arteries and decreasing our blood pressure
  3. It can regulate our blood sugar and lower our diabetes risk
  4. Lower inflammation and contains beneficial phytochemicals from the oil seeds

There are several foods that are recommended as part of the polyunsaturated fat category:

  1. Fish, including salmon, herring, trout, albacore tuna, anchovy, sardines, bluefish, mussels, halibut, bass, oysters and mackerel
  2. Vegetable, Safflower, Corn, Flax, Olive, Canola and Soybean oil
  3. Sunflower, poppy, chia and flax seeds
  4. Eggs and avocado
  5. Walnuts, soybeans, almonds, pine and brazil nuts
  6. Fresh, raw pork sausage, pork, roasted turkey, roasted chicken wings and duck
  7. Quinoa, toasted wheat germ, raw oat bran, dry chickpeas, millet, tahini and firm tofu

So, what if you don’t care for fish or have a fish allergy? According to the American Heart Association, you may want to supplement with over the counter fish oil capsules. Keep in mind, they are not regulated by the FDA. Most capsules carry about 200-400 mg of EPA plus DHA, which should be sufficient for most people. As always, consult with your doctor on a higher dose requirement. Some capsules leave an aftertaste or cause burping, so it’s best to choose the burp free option when choosing the right fish oil capsule.

Please note: As I always say, all in moderation, because eating too much of this type of fat can lead to weight gain, which contains 9 calories per gram. Carbohydrates and proteins carry half of that amount of calories, so just be aware of your consumption amount.

So, how does this compare to my daily healthy plate regimen? It is recommended to allow no more than 25%-30% of fat in your daily calories, of which should be from the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated groups. Keep in mind, limit the other fats, such as saturated fat to less than 6% of your daily calories.

Should we really have to read every label to see what type fat is in the product? Yes, because as stated, there are good and bad fats, so by knowing what to look for when purchasing the product will only benefit your health in the long run. Of course, keep in mind, that when food manufacturers lower fat, they usually substitute it with carbohydrates from sugar, refined grains, or other starches. These are digested faster in our bodies, which affects our insulin and blood sugar levels. This can result in weight gain and diseases.

As always, consult your health professional on any health concerns or questions.

I hope this article finds you in good health.

Sources:

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000747.htm

https://healthyforgood.heart.org/Eat-smart/Articles/Polyunsaturated-Fats

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/choosing-healthy-fats.htm

http://www.anneshealthykitchen.com/top-30-foods-high-in-polyunsaturated-fat/

https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/food-and-nutrition/fats-and-cholesterol/monounsaturated-and-polyunsaturated-omega-3-and-omega-6-fats

What is the “Zone” Diet and is there a comparison to the “Mediterranean” Diet?

Written by Coach Connie,

Lifestyle Health Mentor

 

Did you know there are over 100 dietary theories out there and that’s just the ones that have been referenced or documented? When we look back on our ancestor’s daily meal habits, we most likely seen meat, potatoes, vegetables and occasionally the dessert daunting us to have a piece. There are so many ways to get our nutrients and diets are the focus of society’s outtake on living healthy.

So what is the right “diet”?  There’s a reason there are so many “diets” in reach, but what does each do and how do we know what works and doesn’t. As someone who has been in the health industry for years, I’ve been there. I felt like I was my own test subject to figuring my body out. That’s why no diet works for everyone, we all are different, but knowing what we can have and what our body needs is half the battle.

I started with the “Zone Diet” and then switched to the “Mediterranean Diet” due to changes in my exercise routine and metabolic changes. Once I achieved my goal weight, I wanted to ensure that I would recover more rapidly from exercise by controlling my levels of inflammation, and doing this in a way that allows me to perform at my highest possible level.

Dr. Barry Sears wrote the book on the “Zone Diet” and then almost 20 years later, wrote the book titled, “The Mediterranean Zone”.  It has very similar attributes, but unlike the Mediterranean diet, the Zone Diet shifts on view on the healthy eating plate. The Zone diet contains 40% of the calories as carbohydrates, 30% of the calories as protein, and 30% of the calories as fat. This improved protein-to-carbohydrate balance means decreased insulin levels and decreased cellular inflammation. A Mediterranean diet shifts the carbohydrates to 50%, protein goes down to 20% and the fat remains at 30%. That’s why it’s been highly recommended for weight loss and cardiovascular health.  Technically, they both have benefits that tie together. Again, depending on our inflammation and metabolic factors and how it affects our insulin responses.

To ensure the best results, time out your meals to help stabilize blood sugar levels and add in physical activity at least three days per week.

An example of a daily meal plan:

  • 7am: breakfast (should be eaten within 1 hour of waking)
  • 12pm: lunch (eaten no more than 5 hours later)
  • 5pm: a mid-afternoon snack
  • 7pm: dinner (2-3 hours after snack)
  • 11pm: a late night snack right before bed to balance blood sugar levels in the brain while sleeping

The Zone Diet states that a 1/3 of the plate (about 3oz for women and 4oz for men) should be made up of protein, and the remaining 2/3 should be fruits and vegetables – with a dash of monounsaturated oil to finish off the meal.

So let’s clarify, what are the some examples of the right foods and ones to avoid and the pros & cons to the Zone Diet:

Foods to include:

  • Skinless chicken
  • Fish
  • Egg whites
  • Tofu
  • Legumes
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Olive oil
  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Turkey
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Soy meat substitutes

Foods to avoid:

  • Trans-fats
  • High sugar fruits and veggies like corn and bananas
  • Breads
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Fruit juices
  • Tortillas
  • Bagels

Pros:

  • Discourages the consumption of trans-fats
  • Promotes consistent eating habits
  • Recommends adequate intake of fruits and vegetables

Cons:

  • Zone products are processed
  • Excludes certain plant based foods

The Mediterranean diet consists of natural, whole foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, nuts, dairy, and pure oils, and excludes processed and refined foods. The diet includes an abundance of extra virgin olive oil and seasonal fruits and vegetables as well as whole, unprocessed grains. It’s recommended that wine consumption remain at 1-2 small glasses daily, and coffee is consumed moderately for pleasure and mental stimulation.

Now let’s take a look at some of the examples of the right foods and ones to avoid and the pros & cons to the Mediterranean Diet:

Foods to include:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grain
  • Fish
  • Meats
  • Dairy
  • Nuts
  • Olive oil

Foods to avoid:

  • Processed foods
  • Refined foods

Pros:

  • Moderate, flexible approach
  • Considers primary food
  • May become a sustainable lifestyle approach

Cons:

  • Some may require firmer guidelines to feel their best
  • Some may not react well to wine and coffee
  • Some may not have the willpower to moderate rich foods

 

To put things in perspective, the zone diet is the evolution of the Mediterranean diet. There is no “one–size fits all” diets, but reviewing both methods shows very comparable methods, but unique when comparing our overall dietary guidelines.

Find what works best for your body type and always consult your health professional. I hope this article finds you in good health.

 

Sources:

Get started with the Mediterranean Diet www.mediterraneandietforall.com

Mediterranean Diet www.health.usnews.com

Mediterranean Diet www.mediterraneandiet.com

The Zone Diet. webmd.com. 6 February 2009

What is the Mediterranean Diet and The Zone Diet? www.Zonediet.com? 21 March 2011

2017 Integrative Nutrition, Inc. Learning Center under Dietary Theories