5 Reasons You Should Be Eating More Dark Chocolate

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Dark ChocolateScientists have been investigating the mysteries of cocoa since at least 1200 B.C., and the jury’s still out on its exact health benefits. The good news is that more and more studies seem to suggest that dark chocolate, which is loaded with cocoa, need not be a guilty indulgence.

Here are five delicious reasons to chow down on the cocoa goodness:

1. Real Chocolate Isn’t Junk Food

There’s chocolate and then there’s chocolate. The former is a brown bar of sugary candy, the latter an antioxidant powerhouse.

The difference is what’s in each. Real chocolate is made mostly from cocoa, the mysterious substance responsible for most of the treat’s healthy benefits. Flavanols, one of cocoa’s key components, are antioxidants. Chocolate may contain added sugars, but if you’re eating dessert in moderation, you may as well enjoy some benefits, too.

To ensure you’re getting chocolate’s healthy perks, look for dark chocolates with high cocoa content. The more cocoa, the better. But be aware: the more cocoa, the more bitter, too.

Some experts swear by sprinkling pure cocoa powder on their morning oatmeal as it packs the most punch, but dark chocolate can still provide some of your daily dose. While there’s debate about what exactly constitutes “dark chocolate,” try to find bars with at least 70% cocoa.

But shop carefully — it’s easy to pick the wrong bar. A 2012 Australian review pointed out that flavanol content can vary depending on the manufacturing process, as well as the ripeness and variety of the parent cocoa beans. “A 70% cocoa containing chocolate bar from one company therefore might not contain the same amount of flavanols and flavanol composition as a 70% chocolate bar from another company,” the authors said.

Source: The Cochrane Library, 2012247th Meeting of the American Chemical Society, 2014

2. Chocolate Feeds Your Body’s Good Bacteria

When scientists recently revealed how chocolate works in your body, the secret weapon was the body’s good bacteria. These bacteria feast on the chocolate, fermenting it into anti-inflammatory compounds that can help reduce cardiovascular disease.

Source: American Chemical Society Press Release, 2014247th Meeting of the American Chemical Society, 2014

3. Chocolate Is Associated With Lower Blood Pressure

Interest in the effect of cocoa on blood pressure began when it was discovered that the Kuna Indians, who live on a small island in Central America, seemed to maintain a low hypertension rate and low blood pressure, a 2012 review said. Their secret seemed to be the three to four cups of cocoa drinks they had every day.

Many studies have since linked the consumption of flavanols to lower blood pressure. In a review of 20 such studies, nine established a link between lower blood pressure and flavanol consumption. (Each of those studies lasted about two weeks; longer-duration studies did not show the same link for reasons that are still unclear.)

When all 20 trials were analyzed, the authors found that flavanol-rich chocolate was associated with a small but significant reduction of 2 mm to 3 mm Hg in blood pressure. “Even small reductions in blood pressure substantially reduce cardiovascular risk,” the authors of the review said. Still, more studies are needed to investigate the long-term effects of flavanols on blood pressure.

Source: The Cochrane Library, 2012

4. Chocolate Can Help Reduce That Iron Deficiency

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, iron deficiency is the leading national nutritional deficiency. While we wouldn’t recommend that you use any sugar-sweetened food as your primary source of nutrients, dark chocolate is a surprisingly rich source of iron.

One hundred grams of cooked spinach has 3.5 mg of iron. One hundred grams of dark chocolate made of 70-85% cocoa solids has more than three times that amount.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011USDA National Nutrient Database, 2011

5. Chocolate May Ease Crankiness

Chocolate may be one of the most frequently craved foods. It is still unclear whether we enjoy it for its sweetness, its fattiness, its carbohydrates, its “optimal mouth feel,” or its psychoactive ingredients, according to a review published in October 2013.

Regardless, out of the eight studies included in the mood review, five showed that cocoa either eased bad moods or made good moods even better.

In a study released in May 2013, researchers gave 72 participants either a dark chocolate mix containing varying levels of polyphenols (antioxidants normally found in cocoa) or a placebo. They found that those taking a daily dose of the brew containing 500 mg of polyphenols (your average 40 g bar of dark chocolate has 400 mg to 800 mg of polyphenols, according to a Nestle study) showed improvements in self-reported calmness and contentedness after 30 days of drinking the brew.

Source: Nutrition Reviews, 2013Journal of Psychoharmacology, 2013ClincalTrials.gov, 2013

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12 Baking Hacks That Will Seriously Improve Your Cookies

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christmas sugar cookies bakingShutterstock

It’s the happiest time of the year — cookie-baking season.

Due to sheer amount of office holiday parties, family meals, and last-minute homemade gifts for friends, chances are you’ve spent at least one chilly night indoors whipping up batch after batch of cookies.

But just because two people make chocolate chip cookies doesn’t mean both will taste equally delicious.

Be they gingerbread, sugar, or oatmeal, here are 12 kitchen hacks to up your cookie-baking game.

1. Use room temperature butter

 

butter and eggsShutterstock

Mmm…butter.

You can use cold butter if necessary, but the cookies won’t be as chewy. Room temperature butter will mix better with dry ingredients, like sugar and flour, and will help hold the cookie shape as your cookie bakes. (Some recipes also call for half-melted or melted butter, but unless the recipe specifically asks for it, the safest bet is room temperature butter.)

The fastest way to get butter to room temperature is to cut it into pieces and let it sit on a plate for 30 minutes while you get the other ingredients ready.

2. Speaking of butter, it needs to be unsalted

The amount of salt in salted butter varies among brands, so there’s no way of knowing how much salt it adds to the cookies. Better to use unsalted butter and add the exact amount of salt the recipe calls for to avoid salty, disgusting cookies.

3. Your eggs should be room temperature, too

Even though many Americans store their eggs in the fridge, you’re actually supposed to use room temperature eggs when baking since the whites and yolks combine easier and more evenly into the batter (leading to a better, airier cookie texture).

Getting eggs to room temperature is really easy — just place an egg in a bowl of warm tap water for 10-15 minutes.

4. Spend time creaming your butter and sugar together

The process known as “creaming” is basically just blending ingredients together with a solid fat, like butter or shortening. Not to get too much into the science of baking, but the sugar crystals help aerate the butter by creating air bubbles as they cut into the fat.

Basically, if you cream the butter and sugar correctly (about 10 minutes), you’ll get evenly baked, fluffy cookies.

5. Reduce the flour to make even more tender cookies

Here’s what most people do: Dip the measuring cup into a bag of flour, pack it in densely, and then swipe off the excess with a knife. These people are probably making rock-hard, dry cookies that their friends are politely nibbling and then throwing away.

Instead, take a spoon and fill up the measuring cup without packing in the flour, and then use a knife to swipe off the excess. This reduces your flour by a few tablespoons, which will make cookies even more chewy and tender.

6. Chill the dough before baking

 

chocolate chip cookies doughShutterstock

Some people think this is an unnecessary, time-consuming step, but those people are dead wrong.

Letting the dough chill in the refrigerator (from four hours to overnight) makes it easier to work with (less sticky), and really brings out the buttery flavor since the ingredients have had time really meld together.

7. Put coarse sea salt on top of chocolate chip cookies

Salty and sweet flavors always go really well together, but putting a sprinkling of sea salt on top of already delicious chocolate chip cookies will make the chocolate seem even richer, and help the buttery, sugary dough taste even better.

Try this once and you’ll never go back.

8. Flour your cookie cutters before use

If you’re making sugar cookies or gingerbread cookies and using cookie cutter shapes, make sure to dip the cutters into flour before use. This way, the dough will loosen easily from the cutter when you place it on the cookie sheet.

You should put flour on your hands and rolling pin for the same reason.

9. Invest in insulated cookie sheets

Insulated cookie sheets are worth investing in because they help cookies bake evenly and will not burn the bottoms. They’re made with multiple layers of aluminum so that the air is insulated within the sheet, and not just whichever part of the oven is hottest.

10. Lower the oven temperature

If you’re making a thicker cookie, dial the oven temperature back about 25 degrees. This will keep the exterior of the cookie from getting too crunchy before the inside finishes cooking.

Serious bakers should also invest in an oven thermometer to make sure the oven is the exact cookie-baking temperature.

11. Check on cookies 2-3 minutes before they should be done

 

sugar cookies baking in an ovenShutterstock

If you like soft, slightly-underdone cookies (like most humans do) be ready to take your cookies out of the oven 2-3 minutes before the recipe says they should be done.

Cookies burn easily, and oftentimes don’t appear “done” on top when they’re actually perfect. Thick or moist cookies are done when you can press lightly and leave a small imprint, while thin or crispy ones are done when they’re firm to the touch and have slightly golden edges.

12. Store an apple wedge with your cookies to keep them soft

The moist apple wedge will let your chewy cookies steal some of its moisture, keeping them soft and tender for longer.

Also, make sure to always put away cookies once they’ve completely cooled — otherwise, condensation will build up and the cookies will turn soggy.

Original article: http://www.businessinsider.com/best-cookie-baking-tips-2013-12#ixzz2wVw6VgOt

Here’s More Proof That Fat Isn’t As Bad As Dietitians Once Thought

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The types of fat people get in their diet may not be as closely related to their risk of heart disease as previously believed, a new review of past studies suggests.

Guidelines from the U.S. federal government and recommendations from the American

Thomson Reuters – A KFC “Double Down” sandwich is seen in Montreal

Heart Association call for increased consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and lower consumption of saturated fats.

But researchers found people’s risk of heart disease varied little based on how much of those fats they ate.

Polyunsaturated fats generally come from plant-based foods such as nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fats, are found in fish.

On the other hand, most saturated fats in the American diet come from foods of animal origin, including red meat and high-fat dairy products.

The authors of the new review say uncertainties in evidence have led to considerable variation in international guidelines on fat intake. They also say the use of self-reported diet information may have resulted in problems classifying the different fatty acids that people eat.

“We intended to help resolve the existing uncertainties around fatty acids and their potential association with coronary heart disease risk,” Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury told Reuters Health in an email.

Chowdhury, from the University of Cambridge in the UK, led the review that was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

He and his colleagues collected data from 72 previously published studies of more than 600,000 people from 18 countries.

Those included studies that measured the types of fatty acids people consumed or had in their blood, as well as those that randomly assigned people to take fatty acid supplements or not.

All of the studies followed participants to see who developed heart problems like heart attacks, heart disease or coronary insufficiency.

When Chowdhury and his team analyzed data on fatty acid intake, they found that none of the types of saturated or polyunsaturated fats had a significant impact on heart disease risk. However, consumption of trans fat – found in some processed foods and some forms of stick margarine – was tied to a 16 percent increase in risk. Guidelines call for avoiding trans fats altogether.

When the researchers examined markers of fatty acids in the blood, they also found little difference in heart risk based on levels of saturated or polyunsaturated fats. But the results varied for individual fatty acids.

The researchers found that higher blood levels of two forms of omega-3 fatty acids – docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – were associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

They did not see a significant reduction in heart disease risk with any of the fatty acids in studies that randomly assigned some participants to take them in supplement form. Doses used in the studies ranged from 2 to 5.5 grams per day of added oils and 0.3 to 6 grams per day when capsules were used.

“The pattern of findings from this review did not support the current cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of total long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and suggest reduced consumption of total saturated fatty acids,” Chowdhury said.

But he said further careful research and specifically large-scale clinical trials are required before making a conclusive judgment and changing dietary guidelines.

Linda Van Horn, from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, told Reuters Health the study was well done and demonstrated that some fatty acids are better than others. But it’s not enough to change current guidelines, she added.

Van Horn chaired the 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee which was involved in creating federal recommendations and is a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. She was not involved in the new review.

“People need to eat as has been recommended – this paper changes nothing about the adverse impact of saturated fat,” she said.

Van Horn pointed out that there is no biological need for saturated fats.

“People like their burgers and their hot dogs,” she said, “but this study still doesn’t make them nutritious.”

“Frankly I’m really worried this will confuse consumers,” Duffy MacKay told Reuters Health of the findings.

MacKay is senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade association in Washington, D.C. He was not involved in the new research.

“It may possibly be used by some as a license to ignore these decades of good advice, common sense and Grandma’s advice, and go right for the cheese breads,” he said.

He said the report doesn’t change what’s perceived as a heart-healthy diet.

“I think the concept of a diet high in polyunsaturated fat, low in saturated fat and low in trans fat still holds a lot of weight based on decades of research,” he said.

MacKay also said this report does nothing to change the need to get certain fatty acids in the diet.

“It all pointed toward the contribution of EPA and DHA as maintaining heart health and preventing cardiovascular disease, which to me is promising,” he said.

Van Horn said the emphasis is still on choosing plant-based foods and fish.

“It’s just that now we’ll have the ability to be more specific about what the better unsaturated fats choices are,” she said.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1i46lF7 Annals of Internal Medicine, online March 17, 2014.

The 11 Most Nutrient Dense Foods In The World

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Authority Nutrition  KRIS GUNNARSAUTHORITY NUTRITION

There is only a limited amount of food you can eat in a single day. In order to maximize the amount of nutrients you take in, it makes sense to spend your “calorie budget” wisely.

The best way to do that is to simply eat the foods that carry the greatest amount and variety of nutrients. These are the 11 most nutrient dense foods on the planet.

1. Salmon

Not all fish is created equal. Salmon, and other fatty types of fish, contain the greatest amount of Omega-3s.

Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely important for the optimal function of your body. They’re linked to improved wellbeing and a lower risk of many serious diseases (1). Although salmon is mainly prized for its beneficial composition of fatty acids, it also packs a massive amount of other nutrients.

A 100 gram piece of wild salmon contains 2.8 grams of Omega-3s, along with lots of high quality animal protein and a ton of vitamins and minerals… including large amounts of Magnesium, Potassium, Selenium and all the B-vitamins (2). It is a good idea to eat fatty fish at least once or twice a week, to get all the Omega-3s that your body (and brain) desperately need.

Studies show that the people who eat fatty fish regularly have a lower risk of heart disease, dementia, depression and a plethora of common diseases (3456). Also, let’s not forget the fact that salmon tastes awesome and is fairly simple to prepare. It also tends to make you feel full with relatively few calories.

If you can, choose wild salmon instead of farmed. It is more nutritious, has a betterOmega-6:Omega-3 ratio and is less likely to contain harmful compounds (78).

Bottom Line: Fatty fish like salmon is loaded with beneficial fatty acids, protein, vitamins and minerals. It is a good idea to eat fatty fish every week.

2. Kale

Of all the super healthy leafy greens, kale is the king. It is loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and various bioactive compounds.

A 100 gram portion of kale contains (9):

  • 200% of the RDA for Vitamin C.
  • 300% of the RDA for Vitamin A (from beta-carotene).
  • 1000% of the RDA for Vitamin K1.
  • Large amounts of Vitamin B6, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Copper and Manganese.

This is coming with 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein and only 50 calories. Kale may be even healthier than spinach. Both are super nutritious, but kale is lower in oxalates, which are substances that can bind minerals like calcium in the intestine, preventing them from being absorbed (10).

Kale (and other greens) are also loaded with various bioactive compounds, including Isothiocyanates and Indole-3-Carbinol, which have been shown to fight cancer in test tubes and animal studies (1112).

Bottom Line: Kale is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables you can eat, with large amounts of vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting compounds.

3. Seaweed

The sea has more than just fish… it also contains massive amounts of vegetation.

Usually referred to as “seaweed,” there are thousands of different plant species in the ocean, some of which are incredibly nutritious (13).

In many cases, seaweed is even more nutritious than vegetables from the land. It is particularly high in minerals like Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Manganese (14). It is also loaded with various bioactive compounds, including phycocyanins and carotenoids. Some of these substances are antioxidants with powerful anti-inflammatory activity (15).

But where seaweed really shines is in its high content of iodine, a mineral that is used to make thyroid hormones. Just eating a high-iodine seaweed like kelp a few times per month can give your body all the iodine that it needs.

If you don’t like the thought of eating seaweed, then you can also get it as a supplement. Dried kelp tablets are very cheap and loaded with iodine. Many sushi dishes also include seaweed in them, along with other goodies.

Bottom Line: The vegetables from the sea are highly nutritious, but very rarely consumed in Western parts of the world. They are particularly high in iodine, which is essential for optimal thyroid function.

4. Garlic

Garlic really is an amazing ingredient. Not only can it turn all sorts of bland dishes into delicious treats, it is also incredibly nutritious.

It is high in vitamins C, B1 and B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper, Manganese and Selenium (16). But garlic is also loaded with another incredibly important nutrient called Allicin, which is the active ingredient in garlic.

There are many studies on the health benefits of allicin and garlic. It has been shown to lower blood pressure and total and LDL cholesterol, while raising HDL… which should lead to a reduced risk of heart disease down the line (17181920).

It also has various cancer-fighting properties. Studies show that the people who eat a lot of garlic have a much lower risk of several common cancers, especially cancers of the colon and stomach (2122). Garlic is also very potent at killing pathogens like bacteria and fungi (2324).

Bottom Line: Garlic is both tasty and extremely healthy. It is highly nutritious and the bioactive compounds in it have known disease fighting properties.

5. Shellfish

Out of all the wonderfully nutritious organisms found in the sea, shellfish may be the most nutritious of all. Commonly consumed types of shellfish include clams, oysters and various others.

Clams are among the best sources of vitamin B12 in existence, with a 100 grams of clams supplying over 16 times the RDA! It is also loaded with other nutrients, including Vitamin C, B-Vitamins, Potassium, Selenium and Iron (25).

Oysters are also incredibly nutritious… with a 100 grams supplying 6 times the RDA for Zinc, 2 times the RDA for Copper, along with large amounts of B12 and Vitamin D – along with a plethora of other nutrients (26). Really, shellfish are among the most nutritious foods in existence. Unfortunately, people rarely consume them.

They may also be considered a great food for people who want to be as close to vegetarian/vegan as possible, while also getting most of the benefits of consuming animal foods. Shellfish is non-sentient.

Bottom Line: Shellfish are among the most nutritious organisms found in the sea. They are very high in important nutrients like Vitamin B12 and Zinc.

6. Potatoes

If there’s one high-carb food that I miss on my low-carb diet, it’s potatoes.

A single large potato contains lots of Potassium, Magnesium, Iron, Copper and Manganese… with plenty of vitamin C and most of the B vitamins (27). Potatoes really are one of the world’s most perfect foods.

They contain a little bit of almost every nutrient we need and there have been accounts of people living onnothing but potatoes for a long time. They are also one of the most fulfilling foods in existence. When researchers compared the “satiety value” of different foods, boiled potatoes scored higher than any other food they measured (28).

If you cook the potatoes and then allow them to cool afterwards, they also form large amounts of resistant starch, a fiber-like substance with many powerful health benefits (29).

Bottom Line: Potatoes contain a little bit of almost every nutrient we need. They are incredibly fulfilling and can contain large amounts of resistant starch.

7. Liver

Humans and pre-humans have been eating animals formillions of years. However… back in the day, we didn’t just eat the muscles like we do today. Compared to the organs, muscle meat is nutritionally poor.

There are even accounts of modern hunter-gatherers selectively eating the organs, then feeding lean muscle meat to the dogs. Out of all the organs, liver is by far the most nutritious.

The liver is a remarkable organ with hundreds of functions related to metabolism. One of its functions is to store important nutrients for the rest of the body.

A 100 gram portion of beef liver contains (30):

  • 1176% of the RDA for Vitamin B12.
  • Over 50% of the RDA for Vitamins B6, B5, Niacin and Folate.
  • 201% of the RDA for Vitamin B2.
  • 634% of the RDA for Vitamin A.
  • 714% of the RDA for Copper.
  • Over 30% of the RDA for Iron, Phosphorus, Zinc and Selenium.
  • 29 grams of high quality animal protein.

Eating liver once per week is a good way to ensure that you get optimal amounts of these very important nutrients.

Bottom Line: Hunter-gatherers who eat meat usually prize organs like liver, because they are the most nutritious parts of the animal.

8. Sardines

Sardines are small, oily fish that are usually eaten whole. This includes bones, skin, organs, brains and everything.

Given that the organs are usually the most nutritious parts of an animal, it is not surprising to see that whole sardines are incredibly nutritious. They contain a little bit of almost every nutrient that the body needs and are pretty close to being perfect from a nutritional standpoint (31).

Like other fatty fish, they’re also very high in heart-healthy Omega-3s.

Bottom Line: Small, oily fish like sardines are usually eaten whole, which includes the organs, bones, brains and other nutritious parts. They contain a little bit of almost every nutrient we need.

9. Blueberries

When it comes to the nutritional value of fruits, blueberries are in a league of their own.

Although they’re not as high in vitamins and minerals as vegetables (calorie for calorie), the antioxidant content is where they really shine. They are loaded with powerful antioxidant substances, including anthocyanins and various phytochemicals, some of which can cross the blood-brain barrier and exert protective effects on the brain (32).

Several studies have examined the health effects of blueberries in humans. One study found that blueberries improved memory in older adults (33).

Another study found that obese men and women with metabolic syndrome had a lowered blood pressure and reduced markers of oxidized LDL cholesterol, when they added blueberries to their diet (34). This finding makes sense, given that eating blueberries has been shown to increase the antioxidant value of the blood (35).

Then multiple studies in test tubes and experimental animals suggest that blueberries can help fight cancer (363738).

Bottom Line: Blueberries are very nutritious compared to most fruits and are loaded with powerful antioxidants, some of which can increase the antioxidant value of the blood and have protective effects on the brain.

10. Egg Yolks

Egg yolks have been unfairly demonized because of their cholesterol content. But the studies actually show that dietary cholesterol isn’t something you need to worry about, because cholesterol in the diet doesn’t raise the “bad” cholesterol in the blood (39).

What we’re left with is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Whole eggs are so nutritious that they’re often referred to as “nature’s multivitamin.” Egg yolks are loaded with vitamins, minerals and various powerful nutrients (40).

They’re high in Lutein and Zeaxanthine, antioxidants that can protect the eyes and reduce your risk of eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration (41). Eggs are also loaded with choline, a brain nutrient that about 90% of people aren’t getting enough of (42).

Eggs also contain high quality protein and healthy fats. Several studies suggest that they can help you lose weight (4344). Really… whole eggs are an amazing food. The yolk is where almost all the nutrients are found, throwing it away is the absolute worst thing you can do.

Also let’s not forget that eggs are cheap, taste amazing and are super easy to prepare. If you can, get pastured and/or Omega-3 enriched eggs. They’re healthier and more nutritious than most “conventional” supermarket eggs (4546).

Bottom Line: Whole eggs are so nutritious that they’re often called “nature’s multivitamin.” The yolk is where almost all of the nutrients are found, just eating the whites is a terrible idea.

11. Dark Chocolate (Cocoa)

Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. It is loaded with fiber, iron, magnesium, copper and manganese (47).

But the biggest factor is its amazing range of antioxidants. In fact, a study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate scored higher than any other food they tested, which included blueberries and acai berries (48).

There are multiple studies in humans showing that dark chocolate has powerful health benefits… including improved blood flow, a lower blood pressure, reduced oxidized LDL and improved brain function (49505152).

One study found that people who consumed chocolate 5+ times per week had a 57% lower risk of heart disease (53). Given that heart disease is the most common cause of death in the world, this finding could have implications for millions of people.

Make sure to get dark chocolate with a 70% cocoa content, at least. The best ones contain 85% cocoa or higher. Eating a small square of quality dark chocolate every day may be one of the best ways to “supplement” your diet with additional antioxidants.

12. Anything Else?

What are your favorite super nutritious foods?

Feel free to add to the list in the comments!

Original article can be found at: Business Insider

Why spicy food makes your mouth feel like it’s on fire – Video from TEDEd

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Brought to you by TEDEd 

When you take a bite of a hot pepper, your body reacts as if your mouth is on fire — because that’s essentially what you’ve told your brain! Rose Eveleth details the science and history behind spicy foods, giving insights into why some people continue to pay the painful price for a little spice.

Lesson by Rose Eveleth, animation by Flaming Medusa Studios Inc.

13 Nutrition Lies That Made The World Sick And Fat

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Authority Nutrition KRIS GUNNARSAUTHORITY NUTRITION

The worst examples are listed here, but unfortunately this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Here are the top 13 nutrition lies that have made the world both sick and fat.

1. Eggs Are Bad For Your Health

Eggs are so incredibly nutritious that they’re often called “nature’s multivitamin.”

The nutrients in them are enough to turn a single cell into an entire baby chicken.

However, eggs have been demonized in the past because they contain a large amount of cholesterol, which was believed to increase the risk of heart disease.

But the truth is that despite being high in cholesterol, eggs don’t really raise the bad cholesterol in the blood. In fact, eggs primarily raise the “good” cholesterol (1234).

Despite all the warnings about eggs in the past few decades, studies show that they are NOT associated with heart disease (567).

If anything, eggs are pretty much a perfect food for humans. They’re loaded with protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and unique antioxidants that protect the eyes (89).

They are also an excellent source of Choline, a nutrient that is very important for the health of the brain and about 90% of people aren’t getting enough of (1011).

Despite being a “high fat” food, eating eggs for breakfast is proven to cause significant weight loss compared to a breakfast of bagels (1213).

Bottom Line: Eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet and do not raise your risk of heart disease. Eggs for breakfast can help you lose weight.

2. A Calorie is a Calorie

It is often said that the only thing that matters for weight loss is “calories in, calories out.”

The truth is that calories matter… but the types of foods we eat are just as important.

That is because different foods go through different metabolic pathways in the body (14).

Additionally, the foods we eat can directly impact the hormones that regulate when and how much we eat, as well as the amount of calories we burn.

Here are two examples of why a calorie is NOT a calorie:

  • Protein: Eating protein can boost the metabolic rate and reduce appetite compared to the same amount of calories from fat and carbs. It can also increase your muscle mass, which burns calories around the clock (1516).
  • Fructose vs glucose: Fructose can stimulate the appetite compared to the same number of calories from glucose (1718).

Even though calories are important, saying that they are all that matters when it comes to weight (or health for that matter) is completely wrong.

Bottom Line: All calories are not created equal. Different foods go through different metabolic pathways and have varying effects on hunger, hormones and health.

3. Saturated Fat is Unhealthy

For many decades, people have believed that eating saturated fat can increase the risk of heart disease.

In fact, this idea has been the cornerstone of mainstream nutrition recommendations.

However, studies published in the past few decades prove that saturated fat is completely harmless.

A massive study published in 2010 looked at data from a total of 21 studies that included 347,747 individuals. They found absolutely no association between saturated fat consumption and the risk of heart disease (19).

Multiple other studies confirm these findings… saturated fat really has nothing to do with heart disease. The “war” on fat was based on an unproven theory that somehow became common knowledge (2021).

The truth is that saturated fat raises HDL (the “good”) cholesterol. It also changes the LDL cholesterol from small, dense LDL (very, very bad) to Large LDL, which is benign (2223242526).

There is literally no reason to fear butter, meat or coconut oil… these foods are perfectly healthy!

Bottom Line: New studies show that saturated fat does not increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. It raises the good cholesterol and changes the “bad” cholesterol to a benign subtype.

4. Eating a Lot of Protein is Bad For Your Health

Many people believe that eating a lot of protein can damage your bones.

While it is true that increased protein can increase calcium excretion from the bones in the short term, the long term studies show the exact opposite effect.

In fact, eating more protein is consistently associated with improved bone density and a lower risk of fracture in old age (272829).

This is one example of where blindly following conventional nutrition advice will lead to the exact opposite result.

Another myth is that protein increases strain on the kidneys and contributes to kidney failure.

The reality is a bit more complicated than that. Although it is true that people with established kidney disease should reduce protein intake, studies in healthy individuals show that protein is perfectly safe (3031).

In healthy individuals, protein actually reduces two of the main risk factors for kidney disease… which are diabetes and high blood pressure (323334).

Eating a high protein diet has many other benefits, including increased muscle mass, reduced body fat and a lower risk of diseases like cardiovascular disease (353637).

Bottom Line: Studies show that protein has positive effects on bone health in the long run and does not raise the risk of kidney disease in healthy individuals. Eating a high protein diet has many important health benefits.

5. Everyone Should be Eating “Heart-Healthy” Whole Wheat

Commonly mistaken as a health food, evidence is mounting that wheat can contribute to various health problems.

Yes… this includes “heart-healthy” whole wheat.

Wheat is the biggest source of gluten in the diet. New studies are showing that a significant percentage of the population may be sensitive to it (383940).

In sensitive individuals, gluten can contribute to various symptoms like digestive issues, pain, bloating, stool inconsistency, fatigue and may damage the lining of the intestine (41424344).

There are also some controlled trials associating wheat gluten with various disorders of the brain, including schizophrenia, autism and cerebellar ataxia (454647).

Not only that… but a controlled trial in humans showed that whole wheat increased various risk factors for cardiovascular disease in as little as 12 weeks (48).

Even though whole wheat is “less unhealthy” than refined wheat, the best choice would be to skip the wheat altogether.

Bottom Line: Wheat is the biggest source of gluten in the diet. Many studies are showing that wheat, including whole wheat, can contribute to various health problems.

6. Coffee is Bad for You

6. Coffee is Bad for You

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Coffee has gotten a bad reputation in the past.

It is true that coffee can mildly elevate blood pressure in the short term (49).

However, long term studies show that coffee may actually reduce your risk of some serious diseases.

Coffee drinkers:

  • Have up to a 67% lower risk of Type II diabetes (5051).
  • Are at a much lower risk of getting Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (5253).
  • Have up to an 80% lower risk of liver diseases like cirrhosis (5455).

Caffeine also helps to mobilize fatty acids from the fat tissues, boost metabolism and increase exercise performance by an average of 11-12% (565758).

Many studies have examined the effects of caffeine on the brain, showing that it can improve mood, memory, reaction time, vigilance and overall brain function (59).

You may be surprised to hear that coffee is also loaded with antioxidants. In fact, it is the biggest source of antioxidants in the modern diet, outranking both fruits and vegetables, combined (6061).

If you’re sensitive to caffeine or it tends to disrupt your sleep, then green tea has many of the same health benefits but a smaller amount of caffeine.

Bottom Line: Coffee contains very large amounts of antioxidants. Studies show that coffee drinkers are at a much lower risk of developing many serious diseases.

7. Meat is Bad For You

Blaming new health problems on old foods has never made sense to me.

One example of that is meat… which humans have been eating throughout evolution, for millions of years.

For some very strange reason, many people are now blaming meat for diseases like heart disease and type II diabetes, which are relatively new.

This doesn’t make much sense at all and the studies don’t support it.

While it is true that processed meat is associated with all sorts of diseases, the same is not true for unprocessed red meat.

A massive review from 2010 that looked at data from 20 studies with a total of 1,218,380 individuals revealed that unprocessed red meat had no significant association with either cardiovascular disease or type II diabetes (62).

Other studies that included hundreds of thousands of people agree with this… processed meat is bad, but unprocessed red meat is harmless (63).

Even though some observational studies have found a link between meat consumption and cancer, review studies that look at the data as a whole show that the effect is weak and inconsistent (6465).

If there really is an association between red meat and cancer (which has NOT been proven) then it is most likely caused by excessive cooking, not the meat itself. For this reason, it may be important to avoid burning your meat (66).

Also, let’s not forget that meat is incredibly nutritious. It is loaded with vitamins, minerals, quality proteins, healthy fats and various lesser known nutrients that are important for the body and brain (67).

Bottom Line: Studies show that unprocessed red meat does not raise your risk of cardiovascular disease or diabetes. There is a very weak association with cancer, but most likely caused by excessive cooking and not the meat itself.

8. The Healthiest Diet is a Low-Fat, High-Carb Diet

8. The Healthiest Diet is a Low-Fat, High-Carb Diet

Since the year 1977, the health authorities have told everyone to eat a low-fat, high-carb diet.

This was originally based on political decisions and low quality studies that have since been thoroughly debunked.

Interestingly, the obesity epidemic started at almost the exact same time the low-fat guidelines first came out.

Since then, several massive studies have examined the health effects of the low-fat diet.

In the Women’s Health Initiative, the biggest study on diet ever conducted, 48,835 women were randomized to either a low-fat diet or continued to eat the standard western diet.

After a study period of 7.5 years, the low-fat group weighed only 0.4 kg (1 lb) less and there was no decrease in cardiovascular disease or cancer (686970).

Other studies agree with these findings… this diet is notoriously ineffective (7172).

Even though it may work for healthy and active individuals… for people with obesity, metabolic syndrome or diabetes, the low-fat diet can be downright harmful.

Bottom Line: The low-fat, high-carb diet recommended by the mainstream nutrition organizations is a miserable failure and has been repeatedly proven to be ineffective.

9. Refined Seed- and Vegetable Oils Are Healthy

Some studies show that polyunsaturated fats lower your risk of heart disease.

For this reason, many have recommended that we increase our consumption of vegetable oils like soybean oil, sunflower oil and corn oil.

However, it is important to realize that there are different types of polyunsaturated fats, mainly Omega-3s and Omega-6s.

While we get Omega-3s from fish and grass-fed animals, the main sources of Omega-6 fatty acids are processed seed- and vegetable oils.

The thing is… we need to get Omega-3s and Omega-6s in a certain balance. Most people are eating too little Omega-3 and way too much Omega-6 (7374).

Studies show that excess Omega-6 fatty acids can increase inflammation in the body, which is known to play a causal role in many serious diseases (7576).

Most importantly, seed- and vegetable oils are associated with a significantly increased risk of heart disease… the biggest killer in the world (7778798081).

If you want to lower your risk of disease, eat your Omega-3s but avoid the refined seed- and vegetable oils.

It’s important to keep in mind that this does NOT apply to other plant oils like coconut oil and olive oil, which are low in Omega-6 and extremely healthy.

Bottom Line: Excess consumption of refined seed- and vegetable oils can increase inflammation in the body and dramatically raise your risk of cardiovascular disease.

10. Low-Carb Diets Are Ineffective and Downright Harmful

Low-carb diets have been popular for several decades.

Because they are high in fat, they have been demonized by nutritionists and the media.

They repeatedly claim that such diets are “unproven” or downright dangerous.

However, since the year 2002, over 20 randomized controlled trials have examined the effects of low-carb diets on various aspects of health.

Almost every one of those studies agrees that:

  1. Low-carb diets lead to significant decreases in blood pressure (8283).
  2. Low-carb diets where people are allowed to eat as much as they want cause more weight loss than low-fat diets that are calorie restricted (8485).
  3. Low-carb diets increase HDL (the good) cholesterol and decrease triglycerides much more than low-fat diets (868788).
  4. Low-carb diets change the pattern of LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol from small, dense LDL (very bad) to Large LDL – which is benign (8990).
  5. Low-carb diets have powerful positive effects on type II diabetes, significantly lowering blood sugar and reducing the need for medication (919293).
  6. If anything, low-carb diets appear to be easier to stick to than low-fat diets, probably because people don’t have to restrict calories and be hungry all the time (94).

Even though low-carb diets are unnecessary for people who are healthy and active, studies show that they are extremely useful against obesity, metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes… which are some of the biggest health problems in the world.

Despite these powerful results, many of the “experts” that are supposed to have our best interests in mind have the audacity to call low-carb diets dangerous and continue to peddle the failed low-fat diet that is hurting more people than it helps.

Bottom Line: Low-carb diets are the easiest, healthiest and most effective way to lose weight and reverse metabolic disease. It is pretty much a scientific fact at this point.

11. Everyone Should be Cutting Back on Sodium

The health authorities constantly tell us to reduce sodium in the diet in order to reduce blood pressure.

Whereas most people are eating about 3400 mg of sodium per day, we are usually advised to cut back to 1500-2300 mg per day (about 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of salt).

It is true that reducing sodium can cause mild reductions in blood pressure, especially in individuals who have elevated blood pressure to begin with (95).

But it’s important to keep in mind that elevated blood pressure itself doesn’t kill anyone directly. It is a risk factor, not necessarily a cause of disease.

Interestingly, many studies have examined whether sodium restriction has any effect on cardiovascular disease or the risk of death. These studies consistently found no effect… even in individuals with high blood pressure (969798).

Other studies show that too little sodium can also be harmful, leading to adverse effects such as insulin resistance, elevated LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as an increased risk of death in type II diabetics (99100101).

Overall, there is no evidence that healthy people need to cut back on sodium.

Bottom Line: Despite sodium restriction being able to mildly reduce blood pressure, this does not lead to improved health outcomes.

12. Sugar is Bad Because it Contains “Empty” Calories

Many think that sugar is unhealthy just because it contains “empty” calories.

This is true… sugar contains a lot of calories, with no essential nutrients.

But this is really just the tip of the iceberg.

Sugar, mainly due to its high content of fructose, can have severe adverse effects on metabolism and set us up for rapid weight gain and metabolic disease (102).

When we eat large amounts of fructose, it gets turned into fat in the liver and is either shipped out as VLDL particles, or lodges in the liver to cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (103104).

Studies in humans show that excess fructose can lead to insulin resistance, elevated blood sugars, elevated triglycerides, increased small, dense LDL and increased abdominal obesity in as little as 10 weeks (105).

Fructose also doesn’t lower the hunger hormone ghrelin and doesn’t affect satiety in the brain in the same way as glucose. This way, sugar causes a biochemical drive in the brain to eat more and get fat (106107108).

This applies to fructose from added sugars, NOT the natural sugars found in fruits.

When consumed in excess, added sugar is associated with multiple diseases, including obesity, heart disease, type II diabetes and even cancer (109110111112113).

Sugar is probably the single worst ingredient in the modern diet.

Bottom Line: The harmful effects of excess sugar go way beyond empty calories. Sugar can have severe adverse effects on metabolism, leading to weight gain and many serious diseases.

13. Fat Makes You Fat

It seems to make sense that eating fat would make you fat.

After all, the stuff that is making people soft and puffy is fat.

For this reason, eating more fat should give us more of it.

However, it turns out that it isn’t that simple. Despite fat having more calories per gram than protein or carbohydrates, diets that are high in fat do not make people fat.

This depends completely on the context. A diet that is high in carbs AND fat will make you fat, but it’s NOT because of the fat.

In fact, the studies consistently show that diets that are high in fat (but low in carbs) lead to much more weight loss than diets that are low in fat (114115116).

NOTE
Originally found at: Business Insider

Caesar Salad, The Real Thing

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Real Caesar Salad

The caesar salad is not Italian like many people think.  Yes, it was created by an Italian immigrant in the 1920’s; however, It was created as his restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico.  That makes it more Cesar than Caesar.  No  matter, this is still a delicious recipe.  Make it once, then play around with it and make it your own version of this real Caesar or is that Cesar salad.

  • Cooking Time: 20 min
  • Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 medium head romaine lettuce
1 can anchovies, Finley chopped
2 tbsp olive oil (included oil from anchovy can)
1 tsp dried mustard
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 or 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp worcestershire sause
1 tbsp parmesan, cheese graded
croutons
1 egg coddled
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Wash and break lettuce to bite size pieces and set aside to drain till ready to serve.
  2. Add garlic and anchovies, olive oil, dried mustard, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce to your favourite wooden (traditional) or glass bowl.; blend well. Let stand till ready to serve.
  3. Add lettuce and toss well. Add coddled egg, croutons, and cheese and toss well. Ground pepper can be added if you or your guests like.Serve and enjoy.

NOTES:
Photo and recipe courtesy: Leon

How to buy, prep and cook asparagus

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Asparagus_produce-1Asparagus is one of the most mistreated of all vegetables.  Like the brussels  sprout, if you  show it some love and a little tenderness, what you get is pure heaven for your taste buds.  Once you master the basics of grilling and steaming, I urge you to step up your culinary game and try wrapping asparagus in panchetta or using those skinny stalks as the base of a soup or salad.

However you choose to use them, follow the basics of this article below for perfectly crunch results every time.
~ Mike

How to select:
You want to look for a few key qualities:
1. Very thin to fairly thin in diameter: My ideal asparagus is the same thickness as a pencil, but these aren’t always available.
2. Tight, compact heads
3. Firm, unwrinkled stalks

How to store: 
Unless you’re going to eat them immediately after you get home, you’re going to need to store your asparagus. You should treat your asparagus like a bouquet of flowers. Chop 1/2 inch off the ends and place the entire bunch in a glass with a little water in the bottom. Take a quart-sized ziplock and invert it over the top and store in the fridge. Your asparagus will stay fresher longer.

How to prepare: 
Hold your asparagus with both hands, about two inches from the tip and the end. You can chant softly if you want. Gently bend the asparagus… …until it snaps. You have reached asparagus enlightenment. You see, it will naturally break at a point of resistance, and that point is where the stem is too tough to be enjoyable. Do this for all your asparagus.

If you bought asparagus that may be a little too thick, or you feel like being super fancy, you can peel your asparagus. It’ll take some of the stringy-ness away, but I’ve seen fancy restaurants do this even with perfectly thin asparagus. Use a vegetable peeler and peel from tip to stem, being careful not to pass over the same spot twice. You can end up with pretty sad looking asparagus if you peel them too much.

How to cook: 
Now you’re ready to cook. How? There are a bunch of ways. You can grill, saute, roast, boil, or steam, to name a few. Steaming is one of the more popular ways, but I prefer to boil mine in a shallow pan of water. Asparagus can go from DONE! to WHOA! OVERDONE! fairly quickly, so I like to be able to see it and poke it as much as I want when I’m cooking it – it’s harder to do that in my all-metal steamer. And to be fair, my mother also cooked asparagus in a pan of shallow water, so I’m not surprised that it’s my default method. Experiment and see what works for you.
Below is a simple recipe for asparagus, but there are really so many tasty ways to enjoy this vegetable. If you need a place to start, this is a good one, but definitely explore other ways of cooking it. Roasting and grilling especially. Yum.

NOTE
Article originally appeared on: veganyumyum.com
Photo courtesy: Wikipedia.org

 

Satisfying Sausage Skillet

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Recipes-RecipeDetail-400-400-H7pxm.recipeid29115

  • Servings: 2
  • Cooking time: 10 minutes

This is a delicious and quick breakfast on a cold morning or before heading out for the day.  Add a couple of fried eggs and you have a complete breakfast.  Try it once, then add your own flair to it and make this a breakfast staple in your household.

Ingredients

(2) uncured  sausage or (1/2) kielbasa, cut on the bias
1/2 vadalia onion, cut into strips
1/2 bell pepper – your choice of colour, julienne
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 tbsp coconut oil – you can substitute olive oil but will have a stronger taste

Directions:

  1. Saute sausage and onions in coconut oil over medium heat for 3 minutes
  2. Add the garlic and peppers, continue cooking until sausage is brown
  3. Cover and cook for a few minutes until the vegetables are cooked and crispy

NOTE:
Original recipe and photo courtesy: Katie

Lemon Ginger Energy Booster

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Recipes-RecipeDetail-400-400-BgiYG.recipeid29436Today I’m offering a natural and completely healthy energy drink.  This is pure natural energy to get you going in the morning, or keep you going when the going gets tough.

A fantastic idea is to make a large batch and keep it in air tight sealed jars or rinsed out water bottles to take it on the go.

 

  • Serves: 1

Ingredients

1/2 c water
1/4 c lemon juice, about 1 lemon
2 tsp ginger, grated or finely chopped
1 tbsp raw honey
dash of cayenne pepper
stevia if you prefer extra sweetness

Directions

  1. Heat water in a small pan. Remove from heat prior to it boiling
  2. Place all other ingredients into a small mug
  3. Pour hot water over ingredients
  4. Let steep for four or five minutes.
  5. When it is cool enough to drink, stir well and drink it all at once.

NOTE
Recipe and photo courtesy of: Janyce