• Three Reasons Why You Should Be Eating Avocados

    4 Min Read

    Many people give little consideration to the avocado. However, this humble fruit has been categorized as a perfect food, which should be a staple in your diet. Avocados are not only versatile making a great snack, dip or even main course dish, they can also provide some great nutritional benefits. There are a number of reasons why you should choose to eat this tasty treat, but here are just the top three.

    They can provide essential healthy fats:
    The human body needs fat to produce hormones, regulate body fat and control mood. However, many people are concerned about cholesterol and avoid all fats. This is a mistake as consuming good fats can actually help to reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the body. Avocados are an excellent source of healthy fats. They contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, and oleic acid, which are needed for a healthy heart. While many people may obtain their omega oils from fish, avocados provide a great plant based source, which is unaffected by sea pollution and heavy metal contamination.

    They contain all the essential amino acids:
    There are eighteen amino acids which are essential to the body in order to create a complete protein. While many people obtain these amino acids from animal protein, avocados can provide an excellent plant based source. Unlike animal proteins, which require the body to break down the complex forms into a usable amino acid, an avocado contains all of the eighteen amino acids. These are available in a simple form, which can be easily used by the body according to how it is needed. Additionally, whereas animal proteins can be contaminated by hormones and antibiotics fed to the animal during its lifetime, the avocado provides a completely healthy and inexpensive way to gain all those essential amino acids.

    They are packed with other nutrients:
    The avocado is simply packed with amazing levels of nutrients. They are full of vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients and enzymes, which are beneficial to the body. One of the most beneficial nutrients, which is often deficient in many people’s diet is magnesium. Magnesium is an essential component of in excess of three hundred metabolic cellular functions and is found in significant quantities in the avocado. The fruit also contains Vitamin A, C, E and K, in addition to the majority of the Vitamin B complex. Since vitamins are ineffective without adequate minerals, and both vitamins and minerals cannot travel to the cells of the body without the proper enzymes, the avocado provides the complete nutritional package. It provides significant levels of vitamins and minerals together with the necessary enzymes to ensure that you enjoy maximum nutritional benefit from consumption. The fruit also contains phytonutrients, which have been linked to reduced risk of developing a number of conditions including heart disease and diabetes.

    Preparing an avocado is simple and easy. Although many people advocate using organic fruits and vegetables, the avocado is not toxic and you can confidently eat non organic versions. Fresh ripe avocados feel slightly soft when they are gently squeezed, although you can purchase harder green fruit and allow them to ripen in your home. You should remove the avocado skin by cutting just deep enough to peel it while preserving the darker green area, which contains many nutrients. Alternatively, you can cut the fruit in half, remove the large stone and simply scoop out the flesh. Next time, you are looking for a tasty snack treat, why not give yourself a health boost with some homemade guacamole. This superfood snack is simple to prepare by mashing the avocado with a little olive oil, pepper, sea salt and crushed garlic. You’ll find it tastes so good, you won’t even know that its great for your health.

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  • Is Chocolate a Super Food?

    4 Min Read

    There has been a great deal of attention in the media regarding the potential health benefits offered from consuming chocolate. While in the past, healthy eating plans meant that chocolate would need to be eliminated from the diet. Chocolate is considered to be sinful in many weight management programs. However, a good quality chocolate high in cocoa solids, can offer a number of beneficial effects, which can boost your health and well being.

    Helps to maintain BMI:
    While eating sugary candy bars is not an ideal method for controlling weight, recent research has demonstrated, that consuming high quality chocolate, can be beneficial when trying to maintain optimum BMI. The research study had a varied age range of participants from 20 through to 85. The research team documented that participants regularly consuming good chocolate generally had a lower BMI. The participants with lower BMI levels were documented to have excellent eating habits, including exercising regularly three or four times per week, and eating chocolate twice in an average week. It is also believed that the antioxidants present in the chocolate may balance out hormone levels in the body.

    Skin improvements:
    High quality chocolate contains flavanols, which are shown to be beneficial to the skin. A study conducted in Germany had participants consume enriched cocoa daily over a three month period. At the end of the study, the participants felt their skin was smoother and better hydrated. There was also less propensity towards redness and inflammation of the skin after UV light exposure.

    Boost to brain power:
    Many people experience a sugar rush from an afternoon candy bar. However, a study conducted at England’s Northumbria University found that this is not necessarily an imaginary effect. The research team studied the impact on mathematical skills from consuming chocolate. Thirty participants answered mathematical questions both before and after consuming hot chocolate. The findings indicted that mathematical performance was improved after drinking the chocolate. This is attributed to the flavanol content within the chocolate.

    Cough relief:
    Coughing is a common symptom of cold, allergies and winter related complaints. However, researchers have suggested that the chemical theobromide derived from cocoa, can reduce activity levels in the region of the brain which triggers coughing reflexes. The research team, working on behalf of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, administered theobromide to three hundred study participants who were suffering from a persistent cough. After the fourteen day study period, sixty percent of the study participants reported experiencing relief from their coughing.

    Reduced risk of serious conditions:
    The flavanols present in high quality chocolate, have been linked to a reduced risk of a number of serious conditions, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It is thought that the regular consumption of high quality dark chocolate, lowers the proteins levels in the blood, thus improving heart health. Additionally, there is speculation that it also increases insulin sensitivity, which lowers the risk of developing diabetes.

    There has been no firm definition of the term superfood. Many people believe that it refers to a food in which the potential health benefits far outweigh the calories. Others believe that it simply refers to a food offering plenty of health benefits. Regardless of which definition of superfood you choose to believe, the potential health benefits of high quality chocolate should not be overlooked. In order to optimize these benefits you should choose a high quality dark variety of chocolate, which contains very high levels of cocoa solids. This increases the amount of flavanols and increases the potential health benefits. Just remember, that like most foods, the old adage of “everything in moderation” should be applied.

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  • Is Coconut Oil the Next Superfood?

    4 Min Read

    There has been a great deal of media attention over recent years, focusing on superfoods. While many people may regard blueberries, cranberries and other fruits and vegetables as superfoods, there is no confirmed definition of the term. Many experts assert that a superfood is a food which offers a high rate of health benefits compared to it’s caloric content. This typically refers to fruits and vegetables, which are low in calories, but contain high amounts of vitamins and antioxidants. However, in recent months other, more higher calorie foods have been considered as a superfood.

    Why Choose Coconut Oil?
    Many people are concerned about having fats in their diet. However, some degree of fat is needed for the body to regulate hormone production and facilitate proper body function. Consuming high levels of saturated animal fats can be detrimental to health, increasing the risk of developing heart disease or high cholesterol. Yet, some plant based fats such as coconut oil can be beneficial. This is due to the composition of the oil and the presence of lauric acid. This fatty acid chain contains anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-microbial properties. The composition of coconut oil is also beneficial to health. It is composed from medium chained fatty acids or MCFAs. These are efficiently absorbed and metabolized by the human body, providing a quick source of energy or therapeutic ketones.

    Using Coconut Oil:
    Coconut oil is derived from the flesh of a coconut but unlike many oils, heating coconut oil does not compromise its nutritional benefits. While many people are concerned about using coconut oil and having the oil flavor the dish, it is not usually noticeable even in delicately flavored dishes. Coconut oil has a lower melting point, which makes it a great for cooking and as a substitute for other fats in baking. Alternatively, coconut oil can be used as a fat in raw food preparation.

    The Health Benefits of Coconut Oil:
    There has been a great deal of case studies conducted on the beneficial effects of coconut oil. Although formal research data has not yet been made available, the efficacy of coconut oil has been confirmed with supporting data from smaller studies. The potential health benefits of coconut oil include:

    Healthy skin:
    The beauty industry is estimated to reach sales of $265 billion worldwide by 2017. This fast growing industry is based on producing lotions and creams to keep skin looking young and beautiful. However, coconut oil can actually make a great product for moisturizing skin of all types. The fatty acids contained in the oil can be fantastic for aging dry skin, as they can lessen the appearance of any wrinkles. Coconut oil has been shown to work as an effective medicinal product in treating a number of skin conditions, including dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis. In fact, many manufacturers of skin treatments are now using coconut oil as a base in their products.

    Weight Management:
    While consuming an oil may seem counter-intuitive to effective weight loss, studies have shown that consuming coconut oil can be beneficial. The research involved both human and animal trials, the findings showed that consuming coconut oil, is actually more beneficial than olive oil. It is thought, that the medium chain fatty acids within coconut oil allow the increase in metabolic rate, improving thyroid function and encouraging the body to more efficiently burn calories.

    Improved Digestion:
    Coconut oil contains anti-bacterial components, which can assist the body in destroying parasites and bacteria within the digestive system. The gut contains both good and bad bacteria. Good bacteria is essential for proper digestion and a healthy system. However, bad bacteria can disrupt this balance leading to indigestion and other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome. The fats contained in coconut oil can also increase the absorption rate of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. This ensures that you receive the adequate nutrients from the food in your diet.

    Improved Brain Health:
    This factor has received a great deal of media attention in the recent past. Case studies have shown positive results in the use of coconut oil to improve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Although formal studies have yet to conclusively prove this, research has shown that the triglycerides in coconut oil can help to improve health of brain cells, which could support the case study data.

    Although most superfoods are fruits or vegetables, many experts now believe that coconut oil should be classified as a superfood. If you’re considering improving your overall health, decreasing the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease, or would like healthier looking skin, coconut oil could be considered a superfood for you.

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