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

 


Power Up!

ultra 40

Can’t figure out why you’re always dragging?  Lack of iron may be to blame – even if you’re not anemic.  When fatigued women with normal blood levels took iron supplements for 12 weeks, they reported feeling 50 percent less tired, according to a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.  It’s possible that they had enough of the mineral in their bloodstream but inadequate amounts stored in their brain, muscles, and other tissues, probably because of blood loss during menstruation, says lead study author Paul Vaucher, a Ph.D. student at the University of Geneva in Switzerland.  Participants took 80 milligrams each day, which is much more than the recommended daily value of the 18 mg contained in many multivitamins.  However, don’t self-treat with larger doses without talking to your doctor first, as too much iron can be dangerous.  And keep in mind that a pill isn’t the only answer:  Beef, seafood, and poultry are also great sources of iron.


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.


When Should I Take My Protein?

 

 WHEN IT COMES TO PROTEIN, it’s not just what you take; it’s when you take it.  Although the human body processes protein every time that you consume it, there are certain instances when your system is more receptive to protein.  More specifically, there are times when you should consume different kinds of proteins.  Don’t miss out on these five important occasions.

FIRST THING IN THE MORNING:  The period between when you go to bed and wake up in the morning is the longest that your body goes without food.  “Break the fast” with protein.  In addition to providing much needed amino acids for muscle maintenance and rebuilding, proteins provide more stable, sustained energy than that donut or bagel that you’re currently chowing on.  Opt for a faster-acting protein like whey first thing in the morning.

PRE-WORKOUT:  By drinking a protein shake about an hour before your workout, you’ll prime your body for growth with BCAAs and other essential amino acids.  Whey and egg proteins are a good choice, because they are easy to drink and quickly digested.

POST-WORKOUT:  The 30-60 minute timeframe following exercise is the single most important time of the day to get protein.  Enzymes and hormones are actively repairing and rebuilding exercise-induced damage as well as replenishing glycogen stores, so your muscles are especially receptive to nutrients.  By supplying a post-workout recovery protein containing whey, casein, egg, and simple carbohydrates during this window of opportunity, you’ll help ensure that you’re recharged and ready for your next training session.

BETWEEN MEALS:  Consuming a protein shake in between meals not only helps keep muscle synthesis maximized, it also helps keep body fat and body weight in check.  Proteins help stimulate the release of gut hormones that trigger a feeling of fullness or satiety.  Dairy proteins (whey, casein, and milk) are considered to be better appetite blunters than other protein sources – especially when combined with dietary fiber – so choose a product with one or more of these proteins if weight control is part of your goals.

BEFORE BED:  Prepare your body for the long fast ahead with a casein protein shake a half an hour before bed.  Unlike whey which is rapidly broken down in the gut, casein is digested at a much slower rate releasing its amino acid constituents over several hours throughout the night while you sleep.  For this reason, casein is commonly referred to as a time-released protein.  Casein is also considered anti-catabolic because it’s rich in glutamine and other amino acids that help protect against muscle breakdown.


How to Select a Protein

 

BUYING A PROTEIN ISN’T ROCKET SCIENCE, but don’t underestimate the process either.  Choose the wrong type and you’ll buy more than you need.  Worse yet, spend less than you should and you may not get satisfactory results – or any results at all.  The type (or types) of protein you select, the amount of protein per serving, and the absence or presence of carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, are other areas where you can wander astray.  Avoid these and other pitfalls by following these simple rules.

 FIGURE OUT HOW MUCH YOU NEED  For most individuals, 1 gram of protein pound of body weight per day is a good target.  Those who are looking to add size may need as much as 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day.  You should also plan on eating some extra protein (1.25 – 1.5 g/lb/day) if you’re trying to lose weight on higher-protein, lower carbohydrate diets, as some of the amino acids will be burned for fuel.  These amounts include all of the protein consumed through foods, beverages, and supplements.  What’s  more, your daily protein allotment should be spread out over 4-6 smaller meals to enhance absorption and utilization.  If you’re a big meat, fish, poultry, egg, and dariy food eater, you can probably get by with a smaller “hit” of protein from your powdered mix.  Vegetarians and others who eat lots of starchy foods will benefit more from a higher-protein formula.

DETERMINE WHAT YOUR BUDGET AND SCHEDULE ALLOW  Single-source proteins offer more precise benefits.  Ideally, you might use a fast-acting whey protein first thing in the morning and 30 minutes before workouts, a recovery product containing protein plus carbohydrates immediately after workouts, a moderately-digested egg protein in beetween meals, and an all-micellar casein protein at bedtime for sustained amino acid delivery throughout the night while you sleep.  Now, here’s where you need to be realistic and honest with yourself.  Even if you can afford multiple products, are you the type of person who’s disciplined enough to follow such a regimen?  If you answered “no”, consider a protein blend.  While not as fast as the fastest or as slow as the slowest single-source proteins, blends offer many of the disirable qualities of a variety of different proteins.

MAKE YOUR SELECTION AND STICK WITH IT – AT LEAST FOR A WHILE  To do something positive for your physique, you need to take your protein(s) continually and consistently for at least 60 days.  After a couple months, evaluate and, if necessary, modify your program to add in other proteins, to increase or decrease the amounts used, or to change to a different type of protein altogether.

 


Protein – The Basics

 

Research shows that eating protein helps build muscle and, in some cases, burns fat too.  There are almost certainly other yet-to-be-proven benefits.  We just don’t know what they are yet.  As the scientific story unfolds, it’s becoming increasingly clear that different proteins offer different benefits, so try to work in as many different types as you can.

A QUICK LOOK AT THE DIFFERENT TYPES

1) Whey Proteins

The undisputed king of proteins.  Here’s why: whey proteins are quickly and easily digested (hence the “fast-acting” description that they’re often given), they are loaded with Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) – including the three Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), and they contain subcomponents (microfractions) that appear to provide benefits above and beyond amino acids and elemental nitrogen.  Whey proteins are available in several forms.  The most basic is whey concentrate.  Whey protein isolates have much of the fat, lactose and other undesireable elements “isolated” out.  Whey peptides have been hydrolyzed, or broken down, for even faster digestion.  So the purest and fastest digesting whey proteins you can buy are hydrolyzed whey protein isolates.

2) Casein Proteins

About 80% of the protein in milk is casein.  Often referred to as a “slower-acting” or “time-released” protein because it is digested and absorbed much more slowly than other proteins, casein proteins are especially useful when taken at bedtime and during other prolonged periods without eating.

3) Egg Proteins

Ask any dietitian, “What’s the best source of protein?” and eggs will probably top the list.  Most nutrition textbooks refer to eggs as the “gold standard” for protein quality.  With loads of EAAs and some of the highest scores of protein quality, we’re not going to argue.  Naturally dairy-free, eggs are a great alternative to whey, casein, and whole milk proteins for those with milk allergies or severe lactose intolerance.

4) Blended Proteins

If you can only afford one type of protein, consider going with a blend.  Combining faster – , intermediate – , and slower-protein sources, blended proteins give you more sustained protein digestion than single-source proteins like whey, casein, or egg.

5) Recovery Proteins

There are moderate calorie, fast-acting protein and carbohydrate combinations specifically designed to be consumed immediately after workouts when nutrient needs are great and glycogen and muscle protein resynthesis are at their peak.  Many also contain whey protein hydrolysates and supplemental ingredients like creatine, BCAAs, and glutamine to further aid the recovery and rebuilding process.  This may also include complementing ingredients like, creatine, betaine and micronized amino acids to assist with your muscle building goals. 

 http://www.nutrition-pit.com/shop/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=7_8

 

 


Exhale: Core Fusion Cardio – Pure Intensity

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Voted best exercise class by New York magazine “Terrific all-over toning routine” –Health “One of the country’s hottest fitness programs” –Women’s Health A quarter of a million people have transformed their bodies at exhale, the exclusive mind body spa. Now you can get these same results at home. This power-packed workout combines focused strength-training and flexibility moves with high-intensity cardio for maximum calorie burn. Get sweaty and svelte as you lose weight while sculpting defined abs, toned legs, cut arms, and high, rounded glutes. The first cardio program in exhale’s hit line of fitness DVDs, Pure Intensity features the favorite[Read More]

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YogaFit: YogaCore with Beth Shaw

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From the creators of all your favorite YogaFit workouts comes a new workout: YogaCore! A great new way to work your entire core center. Core center strength is crucial to any yoga practice. A strong core provides mind and body enhancement. YogaCore follows the traditional format of warmup, workout, and cool down as well as deep relaxing stretches and final relaxation. Using the Core Ball, YogaCore creates strong abs, improved posture and greater balance.