The Definitive Guide to Chocolate

Guide to Chocolate
Ah, chocolate. What a life.
According to the Aztecs, the great feathered serpent god of wisdom and creation known as Quetzalcoatl introduced the cocoa bean to mankind. It’s likelier that it originated in the Amazon rainforest and wound its way north to Mesoamerica, whose inhabitants figured out they could domesticate, ferment, roast, crush, and mix cocoa with water, chilies, and spices to produce a bitter, intoxicating drink. It then took a boat across the Atlantic, learning Spanish along the way. Europe wasn’t sure what to make of the bitterness until someone spilled a little sugar into the drink. Cocoa quickly swept across the continent, giving rise to large corporations that persist to this day, like Cadbury, Nestle, Hershey, and Lindt.
Today, chocolate is everywhere. It’s part of the fabric of human experience.
Why’s it so good?
Let’s start with…

The Health Benefits

Chocolate Contains Healthy Fats

Cocoa butter is mostlymonounsaturated and saturated fat, with very littlepolyunsaturated fat. And because most of that saturated fat is stearic acid, which turns into oleic acid in the body and is well known for havingneutral effects on LDL, even avowed lipophobes can happily and heartily gobble up cocoa fat.
Cocoa butter has been shown in animal studies toprotect the liver against ethanol-induced damage.

Dark Chocolate Contains Lots of Flavanols

Flavanols are an important class of polyphenols, the phytonutrients that have beneficial effects on oxidative stress, inflammation, and help produce beneficialhormetic stress responses. When it comes to polyphenol content and antioxidant capacity, cocoatrounces the ‘superfruits’ acai, pomegranate, cranberry, blueberry and almost everything else. The most studied polyphenol in chocolate is epicatechin, a flavanol.Via

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Why Everyone Could Use a Bit More Flax in Their Diet

health benefits of flax
Flax is a humble but powerful seed as shown through its relatively modest status in the health world, even though it has been heralded as a key component in the Budwig Diet and many other life-saving protocols. It’s a tough job to stand up to the new kids on the block like hemp seed, but flax holds it’s own and can stand up to any of its competitors for practicality and health benefits.
Take heed of this pioneer and what it can do for you and your health.

The nutritional profile of flax

Flax is a bounty of nutrition and the key to unlocking its benefits is to consume it in ground or oil format or to steep it in hot water as a tea. Regardless of which way you choose to use it (there are some ideas below), when you consume flax, you can expect to flood your body with the following nutrients:

  • Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), most notably omega 3s (ALA)
  • Protein (18 percent of total volume)
  • B-vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9)
  • Vitamin E
  • Manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, and selenium
  • Dietary fiber
  • Plant lignans (antioxidants)

So what does the combination of these amazing nutrients do for you? Turns out, it does a lot.

The health benefits of flax

Flax has a multitude of health benefits. Some of the most significant improvements you may notice include:

  • Supports good digestive and colon health (including healthy elimination)
  • Supports healthy cholesterol levels
  • Promotes healthy skin and hair
  • Supports weight management
  • Supports healthy immune system function

Bottom line, using flax on a daily basis beautifies you, inside and out.Read more at
Image via

Nancy Ernst: Have you heard of the benefits of flaxseed?… in most supermarkets and health food stores and can be found in crackers, tortilla chips, breakfast cereals, granola and certain breads. Two tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily will give you many nutritional benefits. Most of the nutritional benefits of …Nancy Ernst: Have you heard of the benefits of flaxseed?

Why Is Adequate Vitamin Intake So Important

Performing a plethora of roles to maintain good health and development, vitamins are essential nutrients that we can’t live without.Adequate Vitamin Intake
Yet there are so many that perform wonders without our even actually being aware of it until we don’t get sufficient amounts and problems occur.Vitamins are characterized by the following:

  • They’re found naturally in food, with varying amounts
  • They can’t be made by the body (save for vitamin D after sun exposure)
  • They are organic in their structure and can be broken down by air, heat or acid, making it more difficult for your body to absorb them since cooking and storage affects their chemical structure – even exposure to air.
  • They’re crucial for normal and healthy development and functions
  • When they become absent from the diet, it can cause certain deficiencies

There are 13 essential vitamins which are divided into 2 categories:


  • B vitamins
  • Biotin (vitamin B7)
  • Folic acid (folate, vitamin B9)
  • Niacin (vitamin B3)
  • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • Thiamin (vitamin B1)
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C

These vitamins need to be replenished on a daily basis since they’re easily absorbed into the bloodstream as food is digested or supplements are dissolved. Present in the watery sections of the food you eat, water-soluble vitamins are continuously regulated via your kidneys. Any excess is flushed out with urine.Some of the roles these vitamins play are:

  • produce and release energy
  • boost immune system
  • maintain tissue health
  • build proteins and cells
  • Produce collagen present in skin cells, blood vessel walls and gums that aids in the process of healing wounds


  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

These vitamins are quite difficult to figure out because we’re more likely to be deficient in these types of vitamins; yet taking them for prolonged periods of time, especially supplements, can be toxic and very harmful to your health. These vitamins aren’t as easily transported through the body as water-soluble vitamins.
In fact, any excess is stored in the liver and fat tissues for up to 6 months. First, they’re absorbed through the intestinal wall, then they enter the lymph vessels before making their way into the bloodstream.
Most fat-soluble vitamins need a protein carrier to facilitate their movement throughout the body.Fat-soluble vitamins are responsible for the following:

  • protect vision
  • build bones
  • protect the body against illnesses, diseases, and free radical damage
  • blood clotting
  • formation of healthy red blood cells
  • interact together favorably to enhance absorption

Vitamin Deficiencies

Unfortunately, nutrient deficiencies are extremely common. The main culprits are poor diet, digestive problems, or chronic stress.
‘Nutrient deficiencies alter bodily functions and processes at the most basic cellular level,’ says lecturer at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health in Washington, DC, Tricia L. Psota, PhD, RDN. ‘These processes include water balance, enzyme function, nerve signaling, digestion, and metabolism.
Resolving these deficiencies is important for optimal growth, development, and function.’ They can also lead to diseases and chronic illnesses.
A common example is the lack of vitamin D and calcium can cause osteoporosis, a condition characterized by brittle bones.People who are at most risk for nutritional deficiencies are:

  • the elderly
  • athletes who train intensively for long periods of time
  • those with low income
  • smokers
  • consumers of alcoholic beverages
  • Some of the most common symptoms of vitamin deficiency are:
  • hair loss
  • oral health problems
  • muscle cramps in the calves and arches of the feet
  • muscle weakness
  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness
  • irregular heartbeats
  • mental fogginess

Every one of the 13 vitamins has a certain role but each also works in unison with the other 12 to lead to the best possible physical condition. This is why it’s so important to eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, dairy, whole grains, beans and lentils, lean meat, and fish to make sure you’re getting all the essential nutrients your body needs to prevent deficiency, promote fat loss and enhance muscle gain.
Supplements and multivitamins are a great way to make sure you’re getting the vitamins you need. Talk to your doctor to make sure you’re getting the right amount instead of getting too little and not getting the most out of your supplements or getting too much and increasing your risk for toxic reactions. A simple blood test is all you need to know whether or not you’re vitamin deficient.

What Happens To The Body When It Doesn’t Get Enough Exercise

dgchpy0 / Pixabay

Many things happen to the body when it doesn’t get enough exercise. Unfortunately, it goes way beyond gaining weight. It’s important to remember that even a little bit of exercise is better than no exercise at all. Continue reading to learn more about the dangers of inactivity. No one is immune!Energy Levels
Mitochondria are energy-producing structures, which live in the cells of body tissues, organs and muscles. These amazing little structures need carbohydrates and oxygen to work properly. Since mitochondria are required for all bodily functions and movement, you definitely can’t live without them.
Mitochondria levels drop when your heart isn’t working at its full potential and your oxygen levels are diminished, due to lack of exercise. Fatigue occurs when energy production is slowed down and the body requires the same amount of energy to get work done.Bone Issues
Bones love a workout, almost as much as they love calcium. The lack of weight-bearing exercise causes bones to lose density and the ability to properly store calcium. Less calcium in your bones means more of a mineral build up in organs such as your kidneys, the cause of kidney stones.
If the period of inactivity is long enough bones eventually began to weaken. This oftentimes results in osteoporosis, which leads to a much higher risk of painful bone fractures.Muscle Problems
Just like bones, muscles benefit from a good workout. One of the first signs of being out of shape, due to inactivity, is loss of strength and muscle tone. When muscles are idle, blood flow slows down and the exchange of waste products and nutrients decreases. Less mitochondria results in lack of muscle coordination.
Without exercise, the ‘electrical’ connection between your nerves and muscles is sporadic at best. How does this affect you? You’ll typically find it more difficult to move around with the agility that you once could. It can also mean decreased strength and an increased risk of muscle injury, because of shrinking muscle mass.Heart-Related Difficulties
Whatever your age, it’s important to keep your heart as healthy as possible. Even though your heart muscle is different from your skeletal muscles, the same health-related principles apply. Without proper exercise, the heart muscle shrinks. This makes it difficult to adequately distribute blood throughout the body and causes the heart to work much harder to get the blood to where it actually needs to go, especially in your hands and feet.
Sluggish blood flow can lead to plaque formation in the blood vessels. This, in turn, sometimes causes high blood pressure, dizziness and circulation problems. All of these conditions are potentially dangerous if left untreated.
As you can see, inactivity causes havoc in and damage to your body. This is especially true for individuals who already deal with chronic conditions because it typically only makes things worse.
In many cases, periods of inactivity are inevitable. But, the sooner you can participate in even a light exercise regimen, the better off your mind and your body will be.

Aerobicexercise can improve memory and maintain brain health as we age, a new Australian-led study has found. It looked at the effects of aerobicexercise on a region of the brain called the hippocampus, which is critical for memory and other brainCredits: Extension Notes: Exercise may improve brain health – The Preston Citizen

A Pulmonary Physician’s Take on Vaping

Walking down the street, I sometimes see people who appear to be strolling in a cloud. These folks are wrapped in vapor they inhale from e-cigarettes – a practice called vaping.
Vaping devices first emerged in the late 1990s. They feature a battery-powered heating element that heats up liquid nicotine to create an aerosol, which is free from the toxic byproducts of cigarette combustion. In theory, this device could make it easier and safer for smokers to kick the habit.
As a pulmonary physician, I wince when I hear about people voluntarily inhaling any foreign substance. We are already exposed to more environmental toxins than we realize, adding something else seems unwise. However, quitting smoking is extremely difficult. Most remedies have been only slightly effective at best. Could vaping help?
After a decade or more of scientific studies, we know a few facts about e-cigarettes, although many questions still remain.
Here are the key points:1. The e-cigarette market is growing. Several studies have shown that between 2010-2013, the use of these devices had more than tripled to include seven percent of the U.S. population. Most users are young and/or former smokers. About one-third have never smoked before. Nicotine is highly addictive which is why smokers have difficulty stopping. Vaping is popular among high school students, and their teachers fear that this will lead to cigarette smoking and other addictive habits.
This effect has been observed in a few studies, but the trend is unclear. In 2015, the e-cigarette use rate among high school students declined from 16 percent to 11 percent. However, there is some evidence that e-cigarette use in high school students is a risk for taking up cigarette smoking.2. E-cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes. Both e-cigarette vapor and cigarette smoke contain nicotine, but only cigarette smoke has the harmful products of tobacco combustion. For that reason, most experts consider the e-cigarette to be safer than regular tobacco cigarettes. However, in both cases, inhaled nicotine stimulates the cardiovascular system. It is unknown whether this effect has long-term consequences such as heart disease or hypertension.3. E-cigarettes may help smokers quit – but the effect is small. The vast majority of e-cigarette users are current or former smokers. Based on research surveys, these patients are either trying to quit smoking or at least reduce their cigarette consumption. Many studies have compared e-cigarettes to other methods of smoking cessation such as nicotine patches, counseling, etc. These studies have been inconclusive. A panel of experts recently suggested that e-cigarettes may slightly improve smoking cessation but the magnitude of the effect is small.4. It’s too early to know all the risks of using e-cigarettes. These devices expose the user to liquid nicotine and chemicals that create the vapor. The chemicals involved with vaping – propylene glycol and glycerol – when heated, are known to produce carcinogens and compounds that irritate the airways. The exact risk from this exposure is currently unknown, though it is thought to be much lower than that of a regular cigarette. Therefore, for a smoker, switching to the lower risk e-cigarette is a good trade-off. But for non-smokers, using an e-cigarette introduces potential risk for lung disease and cancer. Outbreaks of asthma have already been reported in association with vaping.5. E-Cigarettes are regulated differently around the world. The World Health Organization has called for strict regulatory control of e-cigarettes by keeping them away from non-smokers and minors. Some countries have banned the devices altogether.
In the U.S, many initially opposed these devices, presuming that they would lead to an increase in cigarette smoking. Some of this fervor has died down and is now focused on minors. At the moment, most states prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors – the same policy as for cigarettes.
The FDA’s new director, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, has taken a fresh approach this problem. The FDA has established a program to fight nicotine addiction by reducing levels in tobacco and other products. Included in this mandate are continued surveillance of the safety and public health effects of e-cigarettes.
If this program is implemented, the role of e-cigarettes in public health may become clear. Ideally, e-cigarettes will rescue smokers from their habit – without recruiting new ones.
Of course, the e-cigarette industry has other plans. Although some vaping devices carry a hefty price tag, overall vaping is relatively cheap and safer than cigarettes to boot. The industry is using those facts to leverage the market. Analysts predict that the vaping industry will see annual growth of 20 percent over the next decade with worldwide revenues of $50 billion by the next decade. Most of those dollars will come from the industry’s best customers – Americans and Europeans.
If vaping becomes widely used, we may learn that it is safe. But we can’t rule out the opposite outcome either. Widespread vaping across large populations may introduce us to new diseases that could have been prevented.
There is a high cost for ignoring such potential risks. Just ask any patient who has suffered from the toxic effects of asbestos, second-hand smoke or radon exposure.Mark Kelley is a pulmonologist and founder,HealthWeb Navigator, where this article originally appeared.Image credit:
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This Is When You’re Most Likely to Die From a Heart Attack

Maybe there’s a good reason you dislike cold weather: The risk of death from a heart attack is higher in the winter than in the summer, a new study says.
Researchers at Leeds General Infirmary in England examined data from more than 4,000 patients treated for heart attack over four years.
They found the risk of dying within 30 days of a severe heart attack was nearly 50 percent higher in the coldest months (November to April) than in the warmest months — 28 percent versus 20 percent.
That was true even though the overall number of heart attacks was the same in the coldest and warmest months.
It’s not clear from the study if the results would apply in other parts of the United Kingdom or elsewhere in the world.
Still, ‘there is no physical reason why a heart attack, even the most severe, should be more deadly in winter than in summer, so we must do further research to find the cause of this difference and remedy it,’ said study leader Arvindra Krishnamurthy.
Potential explanations could include longer time to treatment, prolonged hospitalization and delays to discharge, and increased prevalence of winter-associated infections. In the sickest patients, these infections could be potentially lethal, Krishnamurthy noted in a British Heart Foundation news release.
The preliminary research was presented Tuesday at the British Cardiovascular Society Conference, in Manchester, England.
Another heart specialist said it’s vital to find out why there are these apparent differences.
‘You obviously can’t choose when you have a major heart attack, but it shouldn’t have such an impact on your chances of surviving,’ said Dr. Metin Avkiran, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation.
‘Although we’ve made huge strides in the last 50 years, we must urgently fund more research to continue to drive down the number of heart attacks and ensure more people can live full lives even after a heart attack,’ Avkiran said.
Research presented at meetings is usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

SOURCE: British Heart Foundation, news release, June 5, 2018

This is is a syndicated post. Read the original

How Eating Healthy Now Affects Your Body in the Future

Eating Healthy
Think of your health as the amount of money in your bank account. Just as you’d like to have more money and keep growing, it’s also wise to have more health in your body and keep that growing as well.
And while maintaining a balanced diet may not always be convenient or cheap, it’ll definitely pay off both in the short and long-term health plan you intend to have for your body.A healthy diet means you’re doing the following on a daily, or in some cases weekly, basis:

  • Eating a healthy breakfast
  • Eating foods rich in folate, as dark leafy greens, carrots, tomatoes, and bell peppers
  • Balancing your intake of lean protein and whole-grain carbohydrates
  • Cut back on sugar, salt, fats, and alcohol
  • Eat fish 2 or 3 times a week
  • 4 to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day
  • Drink caffeine in moderation

‘I would say that the most important thing is a well-rounded diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables and whole grains and fiber,’ says Sally Barclay, a registered dietician at the Nutrition Clinic for Employee Wellness at Iowa State.
A good trick is to divide your plate. Mentally visualize your plate divided into 4 quarters. One quarter should be lean protein the size of your palm is ideal; one quarter should be complex carbohydrates, as brown rice or pasta; the last 2 quarters should be fruits and/or vegetables. Also, a good point to keep in mind is the more colorful your plate, the healthier it is for you.

Enhancing your emotional state:

For a quick pick-me-up, the first thing we crave is pastries or some French fries. But the truth is those foods contain refined carbs which even though they may help the brain produce serotonin, they also cause a quick crash. Serotonin is also known as the ‘feel good’ hormone which your brain secretes when you feel pride after hitting a milestone or reaching a goal. On the healthy side of the spectrum, whole-grain carbohydrates produce a more lasting effect on your mood and sustain the levels of serotonin in your body.

Maintaining a healthy weight:Maintaining a healthy weight:

Staying within your recommended daily caloric intake and eating moderately sized meals are two ways you can be in control of your weight. Having a healthy weight means you’re reducing your risk of chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes just to name a couple.

Boosting your energy levels:

Eating foods high in iron sustains your energy levels throughout the day since the mineral iron helps carry oxygen throughout the body. Examples of food sources rich in iron are spinach, Swiss chard, almonds, and quinoa. Also, snacking on nuts and fruits, and drinking water helps maintain your energy levels.This is what happens to your body when you start eating a healthy, nutritious diet:

After 1 day:

Fewer hunger pangs
Boost in metabolism
Increased focus and clarity

After 1 week:

Increased energy levels
Better sleep
Decreased bloating
Emotional stability

After 1 month:

Youthful skin
Eating healthy becomes a lifestyle choice
You save money on soft drinks, fatty junk food, and snacks

After 6 months:

Boost in self-confidence
Better sex
Lower blood pressure
Stronger bones

After 1 year:

You’ve reached your goal weight
You’re smarter about your food choices
You feel stronger and more alive
You get sick less often
Your concentration and memory have increased
In their bookPerspectives in Nutrition (1990) by Gordon M. Wardlaw and Paul M. Insel, they state that ‘…nutrients are the nourishing substances in food that are essential for the growth, development, and maintenance of body functions. The essential meaning is that if a nutrient is not present, aspects of function and therefore human health decline. When nutrient intake does not regularly meet the nutrient needs dictated by the cell activity, the metabolic processes slow down or even stop.’
If you think about it in that perspective, you’ll realize that food is much more than just counting calories or reading food labels. It makes us look at food as the sustenance we need to keep going strong for many years to come.

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