Ultra-processed foods are harmful for our health — here’s why

Junk Food

In countries such as the UK, US, and Canada, ultra-processed foods now account for 50 percent or more of calories consumed. This is concerning, given that these foods have been linked to a number of different health conditions, including a greater risk of obesity and various chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and dementia.

Ultra-processed foods are concoctions of various industrial ingredients (such as emulsifiers, thickeners, and artificial flavors) amalgamated into food products by a series of manufacturing processes.

The intense industrial processes used to produce ultra-processed foods destroy the natural structure of the food ingredients and strip away many beneficial nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

Many of us are well aware that ultra-processed foods are harmful to our health. But it’s been unclear if this is simply because these foods are of poor nutritional value. Now, two new studies have shown that poor nutrition may not be enough to explain their health risks. This suggests that other factors may be needed to fully explain their health risks.

The role of inflammation

The first study, which looked at over 20,000 healthy Italian adults, found that participants who consumed the highest number of ultra-processed foods had an increased risk of dying prematurely from any cause. The second study, which looked at over 50,000 US male health professionals, found high consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with a greater risk of colon cancer.

What’s most interesting about these studies is that the health risks from eating a diet high in ultra-processed foods remained even after they had accounted for the poor nutritional quality of their diets. This suggests that other factors contribute to the harm caused by ultra-processed foods.

It also implies that getting the right nutrients elsewhere in the diet may not be enough to cancel out the risk of disease from consuming ultra-processed foods. Similarly, attempts by the food industry to improve the nutritional value of ultra-processed foods by adding a few more vitamins may be side-stepping a more fundamental problem with these foods.


What You Should Do To Vegetables Before Roasting Them Read More:

Roasted Veggies

Pre-cooking your vegetables before roasting them is the best way to make them caramelized, yet tender. You can either parboil your produce in water or stick to the single sheet pan prep and steam roast your veggies first, as recommended by Spoon University. By steaming the veggies before roasting them, your produce will retain its moisture instead of drying out.

In order to do this, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, chop your veggies into uniform-sized pieces and line a sheet pan with foil. Spread your veggies in a single layer on the pan and season with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and consider adding a few splashes of vinegar to give your roasted vegetables an extra kick. Cover the vegetables with a layer of foil and steam for half of the cooking time with the foil on. Remove the foil and uncover for the second half of the cooking time to allow the vegetables to roast and caramelize.

While this method will work for roasting nearly any vegetable, keep in mind, that cook time will vary depending on the type of produce you’re roasting. Root vegetables like beets, potatoes, and carrots may take up to 45 minutes, while thin veggies like asparagus and green beans only take 10 to 20 minutes, per The Kitchn.


Best (and Crispy!) Eggplant Parmesan!

Crispy Eggplant Parmesan

I first had Eggplant Parmesan when I was 24 years old, I absolutely loved the flavor but felt like I could really improve on the texture. It seemed like it was just a gloopy mess, like a casserole. So I started playing with the recipe. It took a while to figure it out and here is the results!

I make my own Marinara Sauce as well as making the Vegan Parmesan Cheese. I use Violife Mozzerella Cheese.  Although Follow Your Heart Brand makes Vegan Parmesan, it has almost no flavor. And Go Veggie Makes on that tastes good, it is a soy based product. I use very few soy products as they are not healthy. I will use Tempeh and Edamame occasionally as they are fermented and way easier to digest. I have a severe reaction to tofu and other processed soy products but do not react to edamame and tempeh.

Crispy Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

serves 4

2 small eggplants (about 12 ounces each)
1 cup rice flour
3 large eggs , beaten
½ cup fine gluten-free breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup vegan Parmesan cheese
½ pound vegan mozzarella , packaged or fresh, shredded
3 cups marinara, slightly thickened with tomato paste
Chopped fresh parsley to serve or pesto

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet.

Leaving the peel on the eggplant, slice them into one-inch slices. Place the flour on a plate, and place the eggs in a shallow bowl. Mix the breadcrumbs with the oregano, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and the pepper on a separate plate.

Coat both sides of each slice of eggplant in the plate with the flour. Dip each slice into the beaten eggs, then allow any excess egg to drip back into the bowl. Place the eggplant slices on the plate with the breadcrumbs, turn it to coat both sides. Place the coated eggplant on a sheet pan.

Bake eggplant in oven for about 12-15 minutes each side, just until golden brown, flipping half way through.

Place each browned slice of eggplant on the sheet pan, top with marinara, then mozzarella and parmesan. Place other slice on top of that, choosing one that is close in size or slightly smaller. Then put marinara on top, then mozzarella on top. Do not cover the entire top as you want some of the crispiness to stay crispy! Top with parmesan about 7 minutes before removing from oven. Remove from the oven


The #1 Best Eating Habit for Heart Health, New Study Suggests

heart to heart - Copy

Remember that fruits and vegetables are potassium-rich, but so are seafood, and legumes. Include bananas, oranges, antelope, apricots, grapefruit, prunes, dates and raisins. .

While there are plenty of vitamins and nutrients you’ll want to ensure are found in your regular diet—we’re looking at you, vitamin B, vitamin C, and vitamin D—potassium should definitely be one of them. A new study has shown that there happens to be a certain eating habit that can seriously benefit the health of your heart, and that’s consuming potassium-rich foods. Apparently, having a decent amount of potassium in your system can reduce the harmful effects of excess sodium in your diet and lower blood pressure.

In the study published in the European Heart Journal, 24,963 participants were brought on between 1993 and 1997. At the time, they ranged from 40 to 79 years old with the average being 58 years old for women and 59 for men. The study initially involved the participants providing information regarding certain lifestyle choices and also having their blood pressure noted and urine samples analyzed for both sodium and potassium levels.

When those behind the study again took a look at the participants around 19 and a half years later, they found that 55% had dealt with serious and even potentially fatal issues with cardiovascular disease. It was found that those who had the highest amounts of potassium in the diet were 13% less likely to face cardiovascular problems compared to those who had the least amount of potassium in the systems.

“Our findings indicate that a heart-healthy diet goes beyond limiting salt to boosting potassium content,” said study author Professor Liffert Vogt of Amsterdam University Medical Centers, the Netherlands, via EurekAlert! 

“This study adds to the body of evidence that suggests a higher potassium intake and lower sodium consumption benefits blood pressure,” Elizabeth Ward, MS, RDN, and co-author of The Menopause Diet Plan, A Natural Guide to Hormones, Health and Happiness, tells Eat This, Not That!

When it comes to why a potassium-rich diet helps to reduce the effects of salt and lowers blood pressure, Ward explains that “potassium and sodium have opposite effects on blood pressure—potassium helps lower it and sodium tends to increase it.” Ward also notes that “the more potassium you consume, the more sodium is lost in your urine.” Beyond that, “potassium also helps to ease tension in blood vessel walls, which also helps better regulate blood pressure.”

At the same time, Ward says, “While potassium is important for blood pressure control and for other reasons, some people need to be careful. Excess potassium can be harmful in patients with kidney disease, for example.”

Ward says you shouldn’t “look to potassium supplements to take the place of food,” explaining that “it’s likely that the fluid and phytonutrients in potassium-rich foods help to contribute to better blood pressure.”

To get what you’re looking for from your diet, Ward points out that “potassium is prone to destruction with processing, so raw and lightly processed foods have the highest potassium levels.” With that in mind, remember that “fruits and vegetables are potassium-rich, but so are dairy products, seafood, and legumes.”


Impossible and Beyond: How healthy are these meatless burgers?

Impossible Meat

But how do they stack up? It turns out the answer may depend on whether your priorities lie with your personal health or the health of the planet.

I use these products occasionally. I avoid processed soy as it is not that healthy, and limit my intake of processed foods. That is also reflected in my Meal Delivery Service.

The good news: Meatless burgers are a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals

The protein content of these newer plant-based burgers has been created to compete with beef and poultry gram for gram. Both the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger have comparable amounts, the former deriving protein mainly from soy and the later from peas.

Both meatless burgers also add vitamins and minerals found in animal proteins — like vitamin B12 and zinc — in amounts equal to (and in some cases, greater than) both red meat and poultry. This is a plus for vegetarians, because these nutrients are typically harder to come by when relying solely on foods from the plant kingdom. Vitamin B12, for instance, is found primarily in animal sources, and strict vegetarians and vegans must get their intake from fortified sources. What’s more, plant compounds such as phytic acid bind to minerals, which can increase requirements of zinc by 50% and may necessitate consuming about two times as much iron. For those who eat at least some animal protein, the vitamin and mineral fortification is less of a selling point.

This doesn’t mean a plant-focused diet is lacking in nutrients. Beans, for instance, are a good source of both zinc and iron. They are also an important protein resource. Black bean burgers are never going to be mistaken for hamburgers, but they are typically a solid choice when it comes to health.

Even though legumes are sourced for protein in the branded meatless options, their health benefits are somewhat blunted by the high degree of processing involved. For instance, moderate amounts of whole soy foods, like edamame (soybeans), have been linked to reduced rates of cancer. This protection is often attributed to isoflavones, a subgroup of plant compounds called flavonoids thought to provide health benefits. Unfortunately, in the case of the Impossible Burger, one serving contains less than 8% of the isoflavones found in one serving of whole soy foods (one serving is roughly a quarter of a block of tofu or 1 cup of soymilk).

Poultry-based burger alternatives, such as turkey burgers, also do not contain significant amounts of protective plant compounds. On the other hand, they offer less saturated fat.

If a lower risk of diseases like cancer and heart disease is your ultimate goal, aim for the kind of veggie burgers that showcase their beans, grains, and seeds front and center. Choose legume-based varieties studded with seeds and whole grains, like brown rice and quinoa.


Nuts Can Be Good for Your Brain, Unless You’re Making These 5 Mistakes

Walnuts - Copy

When regularly eaten as part of a healthy diet, can slow brain aging and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“Nuts have an optimal fatty acid profile for the brain, including generally high concentrations of mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids. And walnuts in particular have omega-3 fatty acids,” which are excellent for your brain, explains Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RDN, author of the ​Eat Clean, Stay Lean​ series and ​The Superfood Rx Diet​.

They’re also rich in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that can support your health from head to toe, including fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, thiamin and zinc. And when your body as a whole is healthy, your brain will reap the benefits.

Before you go nuts with eating them though, take a look at these common mistakes. Making them could mean you’re getting less brain bang for your buck.

1. Choosing Overly Salty or Sugary Nuts

Salt and sugar are often used to give nuts a flavor boost. But regularly getting too much sodium or added sugar can have a negative effect on cognitive health.

Fix it:​ One option is to stick with plain, unsalted nuts — they’re typically made without added salt or sugar. But if you like your nuts salted, it’s also fine to look for lower-sodium options made with 50 percent less salt, Bazilian says. (Just make sure you’re staying below your recommended daily sodium intake for the day.)

Try to limit your consumption of candied nuts, which are often packed with sugar.

2. Not Eating Them Often Enough

Nuts will do your brain the most good when you eat them regularly. Followers of the MIND diet, a low-sodium Mediterranean-style diet, had the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia when they consumed nuts, seeds and legumes five or more times per week, according to findings in the February 2015 issue of ​Alzheimer’s & Dementia​.

Fix it:​ Make it a point to work nuts into your diet most days. A simple handful makes for a satisfying snack, but that’s not your only option. Bazilian recommends:

  • Adding chopped nuts to oatmeal or yogurt
  • Tossing nut butter or whole soaked nuts into the blender when making a smoothie (soaking makes the whole nuts easier to blend)
  • Using crumbled or pulverized walnuts as a meatless taco filling
  • Spreading nut butters on sandwiches or toast

3. Not Paying Attention to Portion Size

Nuts are known for being calorie-dense. A 1.5-ounce serving of almonds has 246 calories, while the same amount of cashews has 236 calories.

Grab handfuls throughout the day or snack straight from the container, and you easily run the risk of going over your calorie budget for the day, says Alisa Bloom, MPH, RDN, a nutrition expert and health and wellness coach based in Chicago.

Fix it:​ Be mindful about how many nuts you’re eating. “The research shows mostly around 1.5 ounces is what’s most associated with health benefits,” Bazilian says.  THAT”S 1 to 2 TABLESPOONS!

4. Only Eating Peanuts or Peanut Butter

Peanuts and PB serve up plenty of healthy fats and vitamin E. But making them your only go-to means you’ll miss out on the nutrients their crunchy cousins have to offer.

Case in point? Walnuts are the only nut with significant levels of omega-3 plant fats, which fight cognition crushers like oxidative stress and inflammation, Bazilian says.

Brazil nuts offer powerful antioxidants like selenium, while almonds offer calcium — a mineral that may be beneficial for memory, says Bloom.

Fix it:​ Keep several types of nuts on hand and enjoy a different pick each day. (Store them in the refrigerator or freezer to increase their shelf life — the fat in nuts will go rancid more quickly at room temperature.) Make a peanut butter and banana smoothie on Monday, snack on almonds on Tuesday, and add walnuts to your salad on Wednesday, for instance.

5. Not Buying Certain Nuts Organic

Exposure to certain pesticides could increase the risk for cognitive dysfunction, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, according to a June 2020 review in ​Toxicology Letters​. In particular, the chemicals used to grow conventional almonds, cashews, peanuts, and pistachios are thought to pose potential health risks.

Fix it:​ Consider buying organic nuts when possible. “The more we can lower a toxic burden risk, even for a healthy food, the better,” Bloom says.

But if organic isn’t an option, don’t let that stop you from eating nuts altogether. “Organic is a great idea if you can afford it and if the nuts are fresh,” Bazilian says. “But in the grand scheme of things, you’ll get more benefits from getting the nutrients of [conventional] nuts rather than avoiding nuts.”


My Skin Care Regimen

Washing Face - Copy

The basics of great, effective skincare is cleansing, exfoliating, nourishing and moisturizing, and protecting.

In this article I am going to outline my skin care routine. I have aging skin and so will be addressing the concerns unique to this issue.

I have been using Retin-A on my skin since I was 38 years old and although I use a milder form of it now it is readily available over the counter at this point.  Until about 5 years ago I used prescription strength Tretinoin. But as my skin became dryer because of my age I switched to a combination of Bakuchiol and milder Retinoid products. I, like most Dermatologists, absolutely swear by Retin-A use for maintain firmness and minimizing wrinkles.

The Basis for cleansing are twofold, removing dirt, makeup and sweat. And exfoliation, helping slough off the top layer of dead cells, exposing the new skin underneath. This smooths the skin and makes other products more effective.

The Products I Use

Double cleansing is a method of cleansing your face twice: I do this about every 3rd or 4th in the evening. I tend to get slightly clogged pores on my cheeks from moisturizers. First, with an oil-based cleanser and again with a water-based cleanser. It can help remove stubborn, pore-clogging and acne-causing impurities that can remain on the skin even after washing your face once.

The benefit of double cleansing is that the first cleanser will break down any makeup, remove dirt and excess oils from the day and clean your skin. The second cleanser will remove the oil and finish cleaning. This method leaves the skin truly clean. The second cleanser can then gently remove the oil without stripping the skin and drying it out. While this is important at any age, it is crucial for dry or mature skin!

Bear in mind that the products I use are extremely clean and non-toxic.I have a severe allergy to Propelyne glcol so my choices are driven by avoiding that ingredient as well as phalates, any other glycols and silicones because they just sit on the skin and do not let other ingredients be absorbed by the skin.

The products I use are:

I make the oil mix that I cleanse with. It contains the following oil; jojoba oil, rose hip seed oil. grapeseed oil. carrot oil, moringa oil. sea buckthorn oil and camellia seed oil.

In the mornings I use The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser that I add an exfoliating and nourishing powder to that I make. The ingredients are finely milled rice powder, Papaya powder, Red algae, Green tea extract, Madagascar vanilla, spirulina. Available on Amazon or Ulta Beauty.

In the evening I use Acure Radically Rejuvenating Cleansing Cream available on Amazon or at Health Food Stores. I add a bit of the enzyme powder every other night. The other nights I use lactic acid 20% after cleansing.

Acure Skin Cleanser

After cleansing or using the Lactic acid I use aloe and the serum. The serum I use is The Ordinary Granactive Retinod 2% Emulsion. This is light enough to use under makeup and moisturizer.

To Moisturize I switch it up day to day rotating between Kinship Supermello Gel cream, Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum and occasionally Caudlie Vinsourse Moisturizer. The last one I use more in the winter.  I add a little bit of Libelulle Cerimide Treatment also.

Kinship       Versed       Caudilie   Libilulle

I add a drop or two of Moringa oil, Carrot Oil or Sea Buckthorn Oil to the moisturizer. All of these are very nourishing and have strong anti-aging properties.

I use very little Makeup on my skin. Most Days I use Pur Mineral Powder that has enough coverage for me. For a more polished look or if I am going out in the evening I use Vapour Foundation that also can be used as a Concealer. It doesn’t crease or get in to the lines on your face.

Pur    Vapour

And for during the day I use Beauty By Earth Sunscreen. It is a physical as opposed to a chemical sunscreen, but doesn’t look white-ish after a minute or so.


10 Antioxidant Rich Foods to Include in Your Diet

These antioxidant rich foods may help you to fight free radicals and improve your long-term health.Nutrition

Including antioxidant rich foods in your diet has never been more important, with air pollution, tobacco smoke, UV radiation, alcohol and fried foods all exposing us to countless sources of oxidative stress. Our fast modern lifestyles have fueled the steep rise in chronic health conditions too, but the good news is that including more antioxidant rich foods in your diet can help your body to withstand this constant attack from free radicals.

You might be wondering, what are antioxidants? In short, antioxidants are molecules that are built to counteract the harmful effects of oxidative stress, preserve the integrity of our cells and protect our DNA from damage. Consuming antioxidant rich foods may even delay the aging process. However, since our bodies are not able to synthesize the vast majority of these vital compounds, they have to be ingested with foods.

Berries

Berries are a true nutritional powerhouse. Fruits like strawberries, blueberries, blackcurrants and cranberries are one of the best dietary sources of vitamins and fiber. Multiple studies, such as one published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences(opens in new tab), have shown how regular consumption of berries can significantly bring down inflammation levels and vastly reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer.

These strong health-promoting properties are mostly down to the exceptional levels of antioxidants in these fruits, including phenolic acids, flavonoids and vitamin C.

Although every fruit from this family will benefit our health, some will exhibit stronger antioxidant properties than the others. According to a review published in the journal, blackcurrants and blueberries tend to have the highest concentration of these vital compounds.   

Pomegranate

Pomegranates are small red fruits packed with crunchy, juicy seeds. A review published in the International Journal of Chemical Studies(opens in new tab) revealed how these fruits may be useful at treating a host of different infections and reducing the risk of developing chronic conditions like osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Though nowhere near as popular as berries, pomegranates contain a relatively similar level of health-promoting nutrients. According to a review published in the Journal of Food Bioactives(opens in new tab), they are a rich source of many different antioxidants, including ellagic acids, gallic acids, anthocyanins, and ellagitannins.

PLUMS

Sweet and juicy, plums are another example of a great antioxidant rich food. As described in an analysis published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry(opens in new tab), one medium-sized fruit contains nearly 6.5mg of vitamin C (almost 10% of your recommended Daily Value).

Multiple studies included in a review published in Phytotherapy Research(opens in new tab) demonstrated that regular consumption of plums can lead to better cognitive function, bone density and cardiovascular health. 

Chocolate

If you want to top up your antioxidant intake, consider making dark chocolate your next snack of choice. Although dark chocolate’s bitter flavor may not be to everyone’s liking, it’s one of the healthiest items you can find in the confectionary aisle. Its main ingredient, cocoa powder, is a rich dietary source of flavonoids like catechin, epicatechin and procyanidins. These are compounds that have been shown to lower inflammation levels, improve cardiovascular health and contribute to better immune responses.

According to a review published in the Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity(opens in new tab), cocoa consumption may also have a positive impact on insulin resistance, cognitive function and mood. It’s worth noting though that the more processed the chocolate, the less of an antioxidant capacity it will have. To get the most benefit, aim for minimally processed chocolate with a high cocoa content.     

BEETROOTS

Beetroots are undoubtedly one of the best antioxidant rich foods you can include in your diet. There are multiple health benefits associated with their consumption. These root vegetables provide a significant amount of nitrates, compounds that have a direct impact on the functioning of our cardiovascular system.

Beetroot juice also contains a high amount of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory polyphenols. These vegetables are particularly abundant in betalains, polyphenols which give them their characteristic purple coloring.

According to a review published in the Nutrients(opens in new tab) journal, regular beetroot and beetroot juice consumption can lead to lower inflammation levels, better cognition, improved blood pressure and a vastly reduced risk of developing several types of cancer. A review published in Sports Medicine(opens in new tab) also suggests that there is some evidence that beetroot juice may have a significant impact on the sports performance among athletes.

Green Leafy Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables are the cornerstone of a healthy diet. Kale, spinach, watercress, cabbage or lettuce are not only very low in calories and dietary fats, they also provide a significant amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Spinach is a great example of a green leafy vegetable with a high antioxidant content. Research published in Food and Function(opens in new tab) showed that regular consumption of spinach may lead to a reduced risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis and several types of cancer.

What’s more, this green leafy vegetable may be uniquely beneficial to our eye and brain health. It contains two powerful carotenoid antioxidants: lutein and zeaxanthin. And according to a review published in the Nutrition Reviews(opens in new tab) journal, lutein and zeaxanthin can absorb damaging blue light that enters the eye, protecting this vital organ from degeneration.

ARTICHOKES

Artichoke is a vegetable that has a similar taste to asparagus and is most commonly found in the Mediterranean diet. They are a rich source of inulin, a type of a prebiotic fiber, as well as potassium and vitamin C.

According to a review recently published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences(opens in new tab), artichokes have been shown to possess strong anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. These characteristically bulky vegetables are also a rich source of antioxidants like vitamin C, hydroxycinnamic acids, polyphenols and flavonoids.

Legumes

When thinking about antioxidant rich foods, it’s likely that legumes — beans, lentils and peas — would not cross your mind. However, many of these examples of these staples provide a high amount of polyphenols with strong free radical scavenging abilities.

According to an analysis published in the Journal of Food Science(opens in new tab), yellow pea, green pea, chickpea, soybean, common bean, lentils, and red kidney bean are the lentils with the highest antioxidant abilities. They’re also some of the best vegan sources of protein to include in your diet and high in fiber.

NUTS

Although nuts are very high in calories and dietary fats, they have many health benefits. A review published in Nutrients(opens in new tab) revealed that regular nut consumption can vastly decrease the risk of developing a host of chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, gallstones and certain types of cancer. One of the reasons behind this positive impact is that these food staples contain many different carotenoids, phytosterols (plant steroids) and ellagic acids with strong antioxidant properties.

And according to a comparison published in the Food Science and Technology(opens in new tab) journal, walnuts and pecans tend to show the highest ability to scavenge free radicals.


Benefits of Chocolate and Raw Cacao

Chocolate

I found a great web site that offers luscious raw chocolate confections but also great info on the health benefits of raw chocolate.

Graph designed from information gathered at Natural News: Examining the Properties of Chocolate and Cacao for Health. Source: Source: US department of Agriculture/Journal of American Chemical Society and Brunswick Laboratories MA, USA

This study in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism indicates that the flavanols found in cacao may be helpful in preventing additional neural damage in the case of a stroke. This could indicate a protective function for the flavanols found in cacao, as cocoa was specifically used as part of the trial.

Additional details on the neuro-benefits of cocoa and more layman’s terms about the latest research from the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism.

his study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that heart health is increased by consumption of cacao. Blood pressure is reduced, and endothelial function improved in overweight adults.

“Chocolate contains more magnesium than any other food. Magnesium is the number one mineral deficiency in the west. It is the most powerful stress relieving mineral. It also relaxes the muscles and builds strong bones and teeth.” What more do you need?

Chocolate again scores well in a literature review for protective effects against heart disease. From the article published in Nutrition & Metabolism (Jan 3, 2006,) “The body of short-term randomized feeding trials suggests cocoa and chocolate may exert beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk via effects on lowering blood pressure, anti-inflammation, anti-platelet function, higher HDL, decreased LDL oxidation” and “Meanwhile, the large body of prospective studies of flavonoids suggests the flavonoid content of chocolate may reduce risk of cardiovascular mortality. Our updated meta-analysis indicates that intake of flavonoids may lower risk of CHD mortality”.

Another study, from the Archives of Internal Medicine February 2006.

Chocolate has been shown to have excellent antioxidant levels. ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) values of dark chocolate (13,120 per 100 grams) exceed those of prunes (5, 700); blueberries (2,400), strawberries (1,540) and spinach (1,260). Adding milk to chocolate does not help, in fact, it seems to block the activity of the phytochemicals responsible for the powerful antioxidant capacity of cacao. The August 28, 2003 issue of the journal Nature has a great article discussing the power of dark chocolate, of which, cacao is the key ingredient.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge in England have finally published solid evidence to demonstrate the consumption of chocolate is associated with improved heart and vascular health. Writing in the prestigious BMJ (British Medical Journal), Dr. Oscar Franco and his team determined several factors including diet, exercise, body weight control and lifestyle changes could help reduce the risk of heart disease, a condition expected to claim the lives of nearly 24 million people worldwide by the year 2030. The study authors found that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of cocoa from chocolate consumption could reduce heart disease risk by one-third and could also reduce the risk of sudden death from a heart attack and stroke incidence.

Cacao, ‘the food of the gods’ has received considerable attention lately as it has been found to contain one of the highest levels of antioxidants on the planet, exceeding red wine, green tea, and other exotic fruits and vegetables. Recently published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry (December 3, 2003) is an article titled “Cocoa has more phenolic phytochemicals and a higher antioxidant capacity than teas and red wine”.

Cacao is showing benefits for reduction in blood pressure and greater insulin sensitivity in healthy persons. In an article titled “Short-term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons” published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2005, insulin sensitivity was improved almost 12% in 15 test subjects given dark chocolate and systolic blood pressure dropped almost 6% among the same group.

More testing shows that the antioxidant effects of cacao are helpful in arteriosclerosis. Testing with laboratory rabbits showed, “The antioxidative effect of Cacao Liquor Polyphenols was superior to those of the well-known antioxidative substances, vitamin C, vitamin E and probucol.” Arteriosclerosis, April 2005.

Cacao may help lower the oxidative stress of strenuous activities – thus helping athletes to recover. Recent research “conclude[s] that dietary flavanols, using cocoa drink as example, can lower the plasma level of F(2)-isoprostanes, indicators of in vivo lipid peroxidation.” Free Radical Biological Medicine, August 2004.

Free radical decreases have been noticed in subjects eating chocolate. In one trial there was a 16% drop in the amount of expelled free-radicals, indicating a higher antioxidant level in the subjects taking chocolate. Found in Nutr. Cancer, Vol 47, Iss 2, 2003.

The procyanidin found in Cacao have also been shown to inhibit cataract formation in diabetic lab rats. Experimental Biological Medicine, January, 2004.

All regular readers of NaturalNews know that researchers have discovered chocolate (especially the organic, not junked up with additives and sugar type) contains phytochemicals which appear to promote good health. But no one has had much of a clue about the specifics of some of those benefits on the cardiovascular system — until now. Scientists at the European Society of Cardiology Congress currently underway in Paris just announced that chocolate provides huge protection from heart disease as well as stroke.


Controlling Diabetes with Diet

Veggies

Although I started my business 36 years ago to help people who had severe food allergies it quickly grew to thirty clients within a few weeks. The word got out that although my service was lactose and gluten free it certainly didn’t taste plain and the meals appealed to a very wide range of people whether they had allergies or not.

There were a few times over the years where I stopped doing the service for awhile and worked in kitchens around Jacksonville. One of the things I realized very quickly was this way of eating was absolutely perfect for diabetics. I’ve always leaned toward low glycemic and this is ideal for someone who has to watch their blood sugar. And even if you’re not diabetic it turns out watching your blood sugar helps with blood pressure, cancer, heart disease and other health problems.

This was really brought home about six years ago when a friend of mine on Facebook kept posting consistently that he could not get his blood sugar regulated and that his diabetes was out of control and his doctor was really worried. So I reached out and offered to help him. He replied that there was no way that he could afford to work with me. It took me several times of offering to work with him for free or for barter where he accepted my help.

So two mornings later he came and met with me for a few hours then we talked about how he had been eating. He told me that he was eating exactly the way the Diabetes Association recommended he eat, but that it was not working. In fact he told me he was taking Duval counties agricultural departments class on diabetes and that he just wasn’t working for him. So we talked, I gave him an exact way of eating and he headed out to go to the grocery store.

So about 11:30 the next morning he called me and he was in tears. He told me for the first time in six years that after breakfast his blood sugar was in the range it should have been in. He continued to do better and told me that the following week he went back to the class at the agricultural department. He was very excited to share what he had learned and how well he was doing. He asked if they would be interested in me coming in and talking to them and sharing my knowledge. They told him they weren’t interested.

I can tell you that four months later his doctor was blown away at the next visit and that he was able to go off of insulin. He said when he went to see his dentist that his dentist was thrilled at how much better his gums were doing and his overall health.

On one of our later visits I asked him if he had a copy of the flyer that he had gotten about the class that he did. It turns out it was a trifold pamphlet put out in tandem with the American Heart Association and the diabetic association. The last page gave the diet that they recommended. What they recommended was oatmeal for breakfast. Oatmeal is a grain and derives almost all of its calories from carbohydrates. If you add a healthy serving of fruit you drive that carb load up even further. The other meals were just as deficient.

What our government tells us to eat every day as a crock and is based on heavy lobbying from the food industries. I’m sure everyone remembers when Oprah was sued by the beef board in Texas for saying on her TV show that she did not eat beef. She had to move her show to Texas and spend several weeks defending herself. It cost her lot of money to do so and she won that suit. Because she has the right to say whether she doesn’t eat beef or not. And the science shows us that beef is not that healthy to eat very often. Oprah knew it at the time and we all know it now. But this shows the power of the lobbying forces and the food industry. We should all be very wary of their recommendations and go back to eating real food and stop eating products.

In most cases if you use insulin, you can go back to oral medication and diet to control your blood sugar. If you are on oral medication, you most likely can go off of it aster beginning to eat correctly.