Myth-Melting Study Finds Chocolate Burns Belly Fat, Improves Cholesterol

healthy chocolate

A new study published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences has revealed something quite counterintuitive about chocolate, one of the world’s most prized ‘high-fat’ foods.  This strangely medicinal ‘sweet treat,’ which ironically you find in the candy aisle at the pharmacy, improved markers of cardiovascular disease, including the reduction of belly fat, and only after one week of consumption.

Researchers from the Department of Neuroscience, Division of Human Nutrition, University of Tor Vergata, Rome, in a paper titled ‘Effects of dark chocolate in a population of Normal Weight Obese women: a pilot study,’ describe the effects of 100 gram of dark chocolate taken for one week (approximately a 3 ounce bar) in so-called ‘normal weight obese (NWO)’ syndrome subjects.

NWO syndrome is defined as ‘an excessive body fat associated with a normal body mass index and characterized by a higher risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality,’ and has been found to be associated with a 2.2 fold increased risk of cardiovascular mortality in women compared with those with low body fat.  Generally, those with NWO have 30% or more total body fat mass percentage and significantly higher values of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1, IL-6, IL-8 and TNF-α.

The study looked at the effects of dark chocolate consumption on the following:

  •   Blood lipid profiles
  •   Biochemical parameters (e.g. interleukins)
  •   Blood pressure
  •   Abdominal circumference (i.e. ‘belly fat’)

A modest sample size of 15 women with NWO syndrome, aged 20-40 years, were included in the study. They received 100 grams of dark chocolate (DC) containing 70% cocoa for 7-days. Dual energy-X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) was used to measure body composition. Blood pressure, anthropometric measurements, biochemical parameters and plasma levels of some cytokines were measured before and after DC consumption.

The results were described as follows:

After DC [dark chocolate] consumption, we observed a significant increase in the HDL cholesterol level, a significant decrease of total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio, LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio, and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra). In addition, a reduction in abdomen circumference was observed. We also found a positive correlation between changes in atherogenic indices, and IL-1Ra, abdomen reduction.

The authors concluded:

Our findings suggest that regular consumption of DC could be useful in maintaining a good atherogenic profile, due to the favorable effects on HDL cholesterol, lipoprotein ratios and inflammation markers.

This study should debunk several myths regarding chocolate consumption, such as ‘it makes you fat,’ ‘it clogs your arteries,’ or ‘it is bad for blood sugar.’ While low-cocoa chocolate, which is often high in sugar and may contain cow’s milk products, preservatives and lower quality fats, may not translate into the benefits observed in this study, a high-quality, high-cocoa chocolate may go quite a long way in enhancing general health and well-being. This is especially so if one chooses organically-produced, fair-trade and preferably raw chocolate. The raw part is especially important as the potent antioxidant compounds in cocoa are found at much higher and physiologically relevant concentrations in the non-heated and unprocessed forms.  Indeed, according to the authors of this study, “[the] health properties of cocoa consumption were mainly related [in previous research] to the antioxidant properties of polyphenolic compounds, among others monomeric flavanols, epicatechin, catechin and oligomeric, procyanidins.”

The specific sample of dark chocolate used in this study was assayed to contain the following compounds:

It is believed that one of the primary lipid-modulating, and HDL-raising compounds in high-quality chocolate is the saturated stearic acid found in the cocoa butter. This is also a counterintuitive finding since many decades of propaganda has convinced the mainstream that ‘saturated’ fats are bad and ‘unsaturated’ fats are good.  As the researchers state:

Because of its high saturated fat content, chocolate is often postulated to have a hypercholesterolemic effect. However, the high content of stearic acid (~30% of fatty acids) is considered to be neutral with respect to total and LDL cholesterol, and positive on serum concentration of HDL.”

It is truly remarkable that the dark chocolate was capable of raising the so-called ‘good’ HDL cholesterol 10% within only 7 days. This is a feat pharmaceutical lipid-modulating drugs can not accomplish, unless we are talking about patented forms of niacin (Niaspan) or fish oil (Lovaza), which really don’t count since they are really just glorified dietary supplements.

Previously, we looked at how chocolate – believe it or not – could replace the need for the $29 billion dollar plus cholesterol-lowering statin drug industry, by addressing and remedying the underlying pathology of the blood vessels (endothelial dysfunction) that leads to atherosclerosis and eventual cardiac morbidity and mortality. We feel the research, if you would like to peruse it, is remarkably compelling: Chocolate Gives Statins A $29 Billion Run For Their Money.

When it is all said and done, chocolate should not be viewed simply as a natural “medicine,’ to suppress bodily symptoms or clinical parameters, as anyone who ‘loves’ the way it makes them feel can plainly tell. As my friend Marc David pointed out in his recent article on Vitamin P[leasure], the experience of joy within the enjoyment of chocolate is itself a highly medicinal ‘nutritional fact’ that will never make it onto the label of a product, nor will be easily (if ever) comprehended through clinical trials.  Let the research support what most of us already know: food can be medicine, yes, but the point is to use it in moderate, culinary doses so that mega-dose, heroic ‘medicine’ will never become necessary.

Raw, organic unprocessed dark chocolate is available at www.AllHealthyChocolate.com

 


Miracle Food of the Month: Spinach

spinach

 

It’s a miracle people still make salads with iceberg lettuce!  A member of the brassica family, spinach is an exceptionally nutritious food.  These leafy greens are packed with antioxidants such as beta-carotene, carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin.  Besides fighting off cancer, spinach is a great source of folate (containing nearly 25 percent of your daily requirement).  It also wards off eye disease and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  If the texture of spinach turns you off, pick up a bag of baby spinach – you’ll never buy lettuce again.


The High-Antioxidant Answer to Weight Loss

 

The Xocai High-Antioxidant Wellness System is the first and only of its kind

Everyone loves chocolate, right?  But when it comes to healhty foods, most people don’t typically include chocolate on the list.  For decades, we’ve been told repeatedly that chocolate is a sinful indulgence, loaded with fat, sugar and calories, that contributes only to poor health.  That view, however, is changing as a huge body of research overwhelmingly shows that cocoa and chocolate possess a wide range of health benefits from cardiovascular and brain health to improved energy and immune function.

When talking about chocolate and its health benefits, it’s crucial to know one thing – not all chocolate is created equal.  Steven Warren, M.D., Xocai’s chief scientific officer, says that unlike commercially produced chocolate, Xocai’s products utilize a premium-grade, healthy chocolate unlike any other on the market.  “Because we process our cocao properly, our chocolate retains optimal levels of natural antioxidants, cocoa butter and other vital nutrients,” says Dr. Warren.  “Even better is that our chocolate delivers a rich, robust chocolate flavor that surpasses most chocolates out there.”

Cacao is an Antioxidant Powerhouse

Over the last couple of decades, scientists have increasingly focused on cocoa and chocolate as well as cacao, the plant food they are made from, as a source of optimal nutrition.  The primary aspect of cacao’s health benefits resides in it being one of the top antioxidant containing foods known today.  Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize free radicals or rogue molecules that damage cells and tissues in the body and contribute to literally dozens of diseases.

Cacao contains several classes of antioxidants, including flavanols and flavonoids, both of which are known to protect the body in a variety of ways.  “Cacao truly is unique in its antioxidant profile,” says Dr. Warren.  “Hundreds of studies show that the flavanols and other antioxidants in cacao are powerful protectors of the human body.”

Chocolate Comes Full Circle

When chocolate was first created from cacao beans by Mesoamerican cultures thousands of years ago, it was a drink that retained the antioxidant richness of cacao.  Not too long after it was imported to Europe, however, chocolatiers discovered that adding alkali to cacao, a process called “dutching,” could reduce the bitterness of the cacao and improve its flavor.  Unfortunately, dutching also significantly degraded the nutrient content of the chocolate.

Modern chocolate manufacturers have continued the practice of “dutching,” as well as the incorporation of sugars, unhealthy fats, and chemicals.  “The end product of most chocolates little resembles the antioxidant-rich cacao brought forth centuries ago,” says Dr. Warren.  “In fact, chocolate candy became one of the modern world’s first ‘junk’ foods.”

The good news is that Xocai has recaptured the original nutritional goodness of cacao, thanks to a proprietary cold-processing method that does not destroy the flavanols and other nutrients found naturally in cacao.  Xocai’s chocolate also retains natural cocoa butter, uses low-glycemic natural sweetners, and does not contain “fillers” such as milk solids, oils, or artificial preservatives.

In fact, so revolutionary was Xocai’s chocolate that it was the original creator of the healthy chocolate category.  Its continued development of unique products and commitment to the highest quality of nutrient-rich chocolate allows Xocai to continue at the forefront of the healthy chocolate industry.

Xocai Shows Weight Loss Potential

Mentioned earlier are several health benefits of dark, healthy chocolate.  One other benefit of regularly consuming cacao that is now coming to light is that of healthy, sustained weight loss.

The obesity plague in modern society is real.  In fact, health experts are now saying that obesity is overtaking heart disease as the number-one killer in America.  Obesity costs the country as much as $147 billion every year, not to mention countless lives and untold suffering, and that amount will certainly contiue to grow.

Interestingly, however, science is beginning to make a strong connection between free radical damage, also known as oxidative stress, and weight gain.  Free radicals are unstable rogue molecules that roam the body, damaging cells, tissues and organs.  The results of oxidative stress are widespread and include heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.  Now, scientists are adding obesity to that list.

The good news is that a high-antioxidant diet can help neutralize free radicals and the increased tendency of gaining weight.  Xocai High-Antioxidant Weight-Loss System, which features its renowned antioxidant powerhouse cacao, is the first and only high-antioxidant program to give consumers the tools they need to get rid of those unwanted pounds.


Versa Gripps – Train Hard! Train Like the Pros!

 

ABSOLUTELY THE BEST GRIP IN THE WORLD

Ingeniously Designed to Optimize Any Fitness Routine. The patented Versa Gripps are a staple for weightlifters and personal trainers all over the world. Recognized by “Mens Fitness”, “Flex”, “Muscular Development”, “Iron Man”, “Oxygen”, “Musclemag” (they made their top “2010 Wish List” for gear) and “Muscle & Fitness” magazines as the essential fitness products for any workout routine, as well as bodybuilding, Olympic lifting, power lifting and strength training. This self-supporting grip is the most effective way to increase strength, muscle mass and stamina by eliminating grip fatigue and enhancing muscle isolation. Ergonomically developed for any pulling or pushing workout, Versa Gripps replaces gloves, hooks, and lifting straps.

HOW TO USE VERSA GRIPPS

Begin by inserting the end of the wrist strap through the rectangular metal ring so it creates a large loop, than slide your hand into the wrist strap. Once in, grasp the palm piece securely, lining your thumb up with the cutout (indicating a right and left grip) and tighten the strap with the other hand. The Versa Gripp should fit comfortably around the wrist with the palm piece in front of your hand.

If you have a large hand, and find it difficult to maneuver your hand through the loop (as described above), there is an optional way of putting Versa Gripps on. First, securely hold the palm piece in your hand making sure the thumb cutout matches. Then, use your other hand to weave the long wrist strap through the metal ring. Tighten the wrist strap by gently pulling the strap back onto itself. Perform the same steps with your other hand.

To Perform a PULLING Exercise:

When performing a pulling exercise as in a dead lift, shrug or chin-up, Versa Gripps are designed to fit securely (not tightly) around the base of the weightlifters hand. When properly fit, the user is able to easily turn them to the back of their hand when they are not being used. They are not designed to fit tightly around the wrist while doing a pulling exercise. Versa Gripps will not strangle nor damage the hands or wrists. They will not restrict blood flow, movement or damage nerves. Versa Gripps provide a secure hold onto the weightlifting bar.

With Versa Gripps standing in front of the palm of your hand, position the lifting bar between your palm and the gripping portion of the Versa Gripp (Versa Gripps should be on the outside of the bar). Using the tips of the fingers of the hand that is wearing the Versa Gripps, fold the thicker end of the grip over the top of the weightlifting bar, between the bar and against the palm of your hand. Grasp the weightlifting bar as you would normally grasp the bar. At this point you are locked on and ready to pull.

If you have large hands, the length of the gripping portion is adjustable. Simply loosen the strap around your wrist and allow the end of the palm piece to move farther toward the tips of your fingers. This will provide more gripping length to wrap around the bar for weightlifters with larger hands. It is not necessary to wrap and wrap the Versa Gripps around the weight bar to achieve a solid grip. Over the top of the bar will do it. Locking on to the lifting bar should take only a split second

To Perform a PUSHING Exercise (such as bench pressing):

The human hand and foot are anatomically symmetrical. Your feet have arches, so do your hands. Arch supports are important for your feet. They are also necessary for your hands when doing a pushing exercise, or press. You should support the arch of your hand and your wrist during weight training.

Versa Gripps provide a hand arch support. Built into each grip, is an arch support that works like a bridge over the arch of your hand. The arch support is firm and stiffer, yet flexible enough to wrap over the weightlifting bar when performing pushing exercises.

When performing a pushing exercise, it is important to have wrist support. The padded wrist closure that attaches the Versa Gripps to the users wrists is designed for ease of operation, comfort, safety and support. Position the Versa Gripps farther up on the wrist, than pull the strap tightly around the wrist. This gives excellent support as well as protection from calluses.

With the palm piece of the Versa Gripps lying against the palm of your hand and the weightlifting bar resting on top of the grip, grasp the weightlifting bar as you normally would to perform a pushing exercise.

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