Category Archives: chocolate

BetterYou: Total Nutrition Superfood Recipes

BetterYou Total Nutrition is a fantastic and popular product representing a new approach to nutrition for people of all ages. Containing pre sprouted Barley, whole Apple, Flaxseed, Barley Grass, Quinoa, Spirulina, Bilberry Fruit, Carrot, Tumeric and Kelp, BetterYou Total Nutrition is also rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.

Total Nutrition benefits the body in 3 distinct ways:

1. Fast acting: Strong antioxidant qualities support the body’s cellular uptake of oxygen, giving the metabolism a boost shortly after ingestion.

2. Stable energy release: Pre-Sprouted Barley’s soluble fibre content becomes gelatinous, protecting its nutritional content and sustaining a stable energy and nutrient release. Pre-Sprouted Barley has the potential to generate 400% more energy than conventional Barley and contains a host of nutrients essential for health and well being.

3. Optimal absorption: The ratio of eight essential amino acids within BetterYou Total Nutrition virtually mirrors those essential for the human body to thrive ensuring optimal absorption and efficient energy distribution.

BetterYou’s Recipe Booklet by Dale Pinnock contains 14 delicious recipes to help inspire you to incorporate the superfood in our busy lifestyles. Here are two of the recipes from the Recipe Booklet by Dale Pinnock which comes free with every purchase of Total Nutrition from bodykind (whilst stocks last):

TotalNut_greenSmoothie-2
Mean Green Morning Smoothie

Mean Green Morning Smoothie Recipe No 1:

This smoothie takes little digestive effort, supply masses of energy, and provide more nutrition in one glass full, than most people get in a whole day. Despite its peculiar colour, it tastes only of fruit and will put a spring in your step, a glow in your skin, and a smile on your face.

Ingredients:

300ml of fresh pressed apple juice
1 good handful of spinach
Small handful of kale
1 banana
1 scoop of Total Nutrition Superfood

Method:

Add ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth. Take your time as the greens take slightly longer to blend than fruit.

 

Raw chocolate orange truffle torte recipe No 2:

Who doesn’t love chocolate? This version is packed with good fats, mineral rich chocolate, protein, bioflavonoids and antioxidants – healthy food has never tasted this good.

TotalNut_chocoTorte-2
Raw chocolate orange truffle torte

Ingredients:

250g mixed nuts (raw and unsalted)
150g cashew nuts (raw and unsalted)
2 scoops of Total Nutrition Superfood
5-6 pitted dates
3 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder
100g of cacao butter (cold pressed)
2 ripe avocados
Zest of whole orange
Juice of whole orange
1 tablespoon of honey
20g of coconut oil

Method:

In a mixer, blitz the mixed nuts, dates and 1 scoop of Total Nutrition Superfood to a coarse texture. Melt half the cacao butter over hot water and add to mixture. Mix together by hand. Add mixture to 10” tart base press firmly and allow cacao butter to help the base set in the fridge for half an hour. Using a blender, blend avocados, orange zest, orange juice, cashew nuts, honey and second scoop of Total Nutrition Superfood into a smooth silky paste. Melt remaining cacao butter and coconut oil together as before and add to the topping. Mix thoroughly and add to the base. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

References

Content, recipes & images courtesy of the team at BetterYou.

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A few pieces of dark chocolate Easter egg might be good for the heart

Yesterday was Easter Sunday and I expect that there are still plenty of Easter eggs and chocolate lurking in many homes?!  If you happen to have received a dark chocolate egg made from cocoa-rich chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids) this could be good news for your health.  A newly published study, in the European Heart Journal, (1) has found that chocolate consumption appears to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke), possibly through reducing blood pressure.



Previously I have written about good quality dark chocolate in relation to a number of health benefits.  It seems as though cocoa can have an impact on many parameters of health and has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, stress, inflammation, sunburn and more.



This study (1) aimed to investigate the association of chocolate consumption with blood pressure and the incidence of cardiovascular disease.  The authors of the study examined published data from a large trial which included over 19,000 individuals who were free from heart attack and stroke at the beginning of the trial and who were not taking medication for high blood pressure.  After about 8 years there had been over 150 cases of heart attack and over 130 cases of stroke.  Analysis of the data found that individuals who had the highest chocolate consumption had significantly lower blood pressure than those consuming the least.  The risk of heart attack and stroke, combined, was also lower in the high chocolate consumers.  The current study only shows an association between chocolate and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, it does not prove that chocolate is responsible.  The authors of the study call for further research, particularly randomised trials where chocolate is supplemented to individuals.



It is also incredibly important to add that only small amounts of chocolate were being eaten in the so called ‘high’ consumption group (1).  It amounted to an average of 7.5g per day, or around 52g per week, which is the equivalent of half a standard, 100g, size bar of dark chocolate per week.  Those who were eating the least were having less than 2g per day.   The results did show that those who ate the most chocolate had lower blood pressure and a 39% lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke than those who ate the least amount of chocolate.



It is thought that the flavonoids (plant compounds) in cocoa are responsible for some of the health benefits of dark chocolate.  Flavonoids have a high antioxidant potential and have been linked to a reduced risk of all sorts of health problems such as heart disease and certain cancers.  In addition to antioxidant bioflavonoids cocoa contains a number of minerals such as magnesium. Dark chocolate also contains fibre and is much lower in sugar than milk chocolate, so most people find that they need far less to satisfy their chocolate cravings. 



Antioxidants help to prevent cell damage in the body and protect against disease by mopping-up destructive unstable oxygen molecules known as ‘free radicals’.  The flavonoids in cocoa also seem to have other protective effects on the heart and blood vessels too.  They seem to prevent blood clotting, abnormal heart beat and blood vessel narrowing.  As yet scientists are not exactly sure of specifically how these plant compounds act.



The major flavonols to be found in cocoa are called epicatechin and catechin, cocoa also contains procyanidins.  The important message is that dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids) and cocoa rich products can be enjoyed in moderation and as part of a healthy balanced diet.  Such a diet will be rich in bioflavonoids from other sources, especially vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, pulses, beans.  Vegetables and fruit should form the core of a healthy diet and getting a good variety will give the body many of the nutrients that are needed for optimal health.  Flavonoid supplements are now available, though the evidence for their use is still in the early stages.  If you feel your diet is lacking in vegetables and fruits you may want to consider a supplement to top-up and cover the shortfall, but remember supplements can never be viewed as a replacement for a healthy diet.


 


(1)Buijsse B et al.  2010.   Chocolate consumption in relation to blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease in German adults.  European Heart Journal.  E-Pub prior to print.  doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehq068 First published online: March 30, 2010
Written by Ani Kowal

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De-stress this Valentine’s day with a bit of dark chocolate

It is Valentine’s Day on Sunday and chocolate sales are bound to be high.  Readers of this blog may remember reading about my penchant for good dark chocolate (my preferred chocolate is very rich and dark at 85% cocoa solids), well it seems like giving this treat to yourself or a loved-one could really be a stress-buster.



Cocoa and good quality dark chocolate (the 70%+ cocoa solids varieties) have been shown to have numerous health benefits mainly due to their antioxidant capacity in the body.  A recent study has found that dark chocolate may also be useful in reducing emotional stress (1).



The study (1) was small and very preliminary but certainly interesting.  The study participants were first tested using validated psychological questionnaires to see if they had low or high anxiety traits.  They were given 40g of dark chocolate daily for two weeks.  Blood and urine samples were collected 3 times during the study – at the start, middle and end.  The samples were rigorously tested to see whether various measures of body chemistry of the individuals was changed by the chocolate eating and also to see whether specific processes of gut bacteria was altered.



Interestingly the participants with higher anxiety traits showed a distinct change in their metabolic (bodily chemical processes) profiles when eating the dark chocolate.  Dark chocolate was, amongst other things, found to reduce the urine levels of the stress hormone cortisol as well as other body chemicals related to stress.  Dark chocolate was also found to partially normalise and correct stress-related differences in specific body chemistry levels as well as the activity of specific gut bacteria (1)



In conclusion the scientists suggest that the study provides strong evidence that a daily consumption of 40 g of dark chocolate daily during a period of 2 weeks is sufficient to modify the metabolism of healthy human subjects (1)



Further studies to confirm these results are needed and the study definitely does not justify chocolate binges!  However, reaching for a few squares of good quality dark chocolate may be a soothing way to treat yourself to something indulgent, especially on Valentine’s Day.



(1)Francois-Pierre J. Martin, FPJ et al.  2009. Metabolic Effects of Dark Chocolate Consumption on Energy, Gut Microbiota, and Stress-Related Metabolism in Free-Living Subjects.  J. Proteome Res. 8 (12), pp 5568–5579
Written by Ani Kowal

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More health benefits related to cocoa consumption

On Monday I wrote about phytochemicals in relation to obesity.  Bioflavonoids are phytochemicals, or plant nutrient, that I have written about often.  Fruit and vegetables and other plant-based foods such as nuts, seeds, pulses, beans are the richest sources of flavonoids.  A favoured source of flavonoids for me is cocoa.  Cocoa and dark chocolate made from a minimum of 70% cocoa solids are a great source of flavonoids that have high antioxidant potential and have been linked to a reduced risk of all sorts of health problems such as heart disease and certain cancers.  In addition to antioxidant bioflavonoids cocoa contains a number of minerals such as magnesium. Dark chocolate also contains fibre and is much lower in sugar than milk chocolate, so most people find that they need far less to satisfy their chocolate cravings.



A recent study (1) has found that a high intake of cocoa bioflavonoids may be related to a reduced inflammatory response in the body in patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke).  Cardiovascular disease is considered an inflammatory condition.  The authors note that “These antiinflammatory effects may contribute to the overall benefits of cocoa consumption against atherosclerosis”.



The study involved forty two individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease.  The individuals received 40g cocoa powder with 500mL skimmed milk or only 500ml skimmed milk for 4 weeks.  The regimen was then switched.   Before and after each intervention period, inflammatory markers in the cells and in blood serum were evaluated.  The results indicate that intake of cocoa polyphenols may positively change inflammatory chemicals in individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease (1)



Flavonoids act as antioxidants in the body, helping to prevent cell damage and protection against disease by mopping-up destructive unstable oxygen molecules known as ‘free radicals’.  Polypheonols also seem to have other protective effects on the heart and blood vessels.  They seem to prevent blood clotting, abnormal heart beat and blood vessel narrowing.  As yet scientists are not exactly sure of how these plant compounds act, however they do seem to positively change the way our genes function.



A recent review of published evidence(2) also suggests that there could be a link between cocoa consumption and protection against cancer.  The high concentration of bioflavonoids – catechins and procyanidins, found in cocoa and dark chocolate products is thought to be the important factor.  As mentioned the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of these bioflavonoids probably also accounts for the cancer protective properties.  Studies into cocoa and cancer prevention have been small and are preliminary.  Larger trials would be necessary for any definitive evidence.



The major flavonols to be found in cocoa are called epicatechin and catechin.  The important message is that dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids) and cocoa rich products can be enjoyed in moderation and as part of a healthy balanced diet rich in bioflavonoids from other sources, especially vegetables and fruits.  Vegetables and fruit should form the core of a healthy diet and getting a good variety will give the body many of the nutrients that are needed for optimal health.  Flavonoid supplements are now available, though the evidence for their use is still in the early stages.  If you feel your diet is lacking in vegetables and fruits you may want to consider a supplement to top-up and cover the shortfall, but remember supplements are not a replacement for a healthy diet.


 


(1)Mongas M et al.  2009.  Effect of cocoa powder on the modulation of inflammatory biomarkers in patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease.  Am J Clin Nutr.  90:1144-1150
(2)Maskarinec G.  2009.  Cancer protective properties of cocoa: a review of the epidemiologic evidence. Nutr Cancer. 61(5):573-9.
Written by Ani Kowal

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Crack a few nuts and indulge with a little dark chocolate. Christmas food, Part II

Dark chocolate, the varieties containing 85% -90% cocoa solids, is something that I really do enjoy (as regular readers of my blog will already know)!  I take comfort in knowing that this treat is also quite healthy.  Numerous studies have now linked the eating of dark chocolate to a reduced risk of heart disease and cancers, as well as other conditions.  The health benefits appear to come from the antioxidant flavonoids (bioactive plant nutrients) contained within the cocoa and also from the many minerals that cocoa contains such as magnesium.  Dark chocolate also contains fibre and is much lower in sugar than milk chocolate, so most people find that they need far less to satisfy their chocolate cravings.



As a child I remember being told not to spoil my appetite by eating too much chocolate before the Christmas meal so I was pleased to read a report produced by the Faculty of Life Sciences (LIFE) at the University of Copenhagen, the paper details some research that the scientists there have carried out on dark chocolate and appetite (1).



The scientists have found that dark chocolate is far more filling than milk chocolate and may lessen our craving for milk chocolate which is sweet, salty and provides very little in the way of nutrition.  Eating a few squares of good quality dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids or over, may well satisfy chocolate cravings and hence prevent further binges and large Christmas weight gains.



To compare the effects of dark and milk chocolate on both appetite and subsequent calorie intake, 16 young, healthy men of normal weight who all liked both dark and milk chocolate took part in an experiment over two separate sessions.  In the first instance dark chocolate was tested and in the second stage, occurring on a different day, milk chocolate was tested.  Prior to the experiment all the participants fasted for 12 hours, so they were hungry.  They were than given 100g of chocolate to consume within 15 minutes.  The calorie content of both the dark and milk chocolate was the same.  After they had eaten the chocolate they were asked to register their appetite every half an hour for the next five hours.  Two and a half hours after having eaten the chocolate the individuals were offered pizza and instructed to eat until they felt comfortably satisfied.  The results were analysed by the scientists and were significant in that after eating dark chocolate the individuals consumed 15% fewer calories from the pizza than when they had eaten milk chocolate.  The participants also recorded that they felt less like eating after consuming the dark chocolate, it made them feel fuller for longer. 



So, in addition to providing us with nutrients and antioxidant, dark chocolate may well help to fill us up and prevent us from over-indulging on unhealthier foods this Christmas.  The appetite controlling effects of the dark chocolate could be down to the nutrients it contains or perhaps the fibre content.  Of course, I am not suggesting gorging on dark chocolate but a few pieces may not be as bad as you once thought!!



Nuts are another Christmas food that some people tend to avoid, thinking they are fatty and full of calories.  As I mentioned last week, nuts are a healthy natural food and we could all do well from eating a regular handful of unsalted, unroasted nuts.



Nuts are packed with nutrients, fibre and healthy fats.  Numerous studies suggest that people who regularly consume nuts (around 30g per day) are slimmer than those who do not.  Nuts also make a great snack as they help dampen the appetite and prevent later overeating.  The fat in nuts is mainly monounsaturated fat, the same as olive oil, which appears to reduce risk of heart disease.  Nuts are also rich in vitamin E, magnesium, potassium and fibre – all of these nutrients are great for heart health.  Brazil nuts are also very high in selenium which is linked to a reduced risk of cancer and walnuts contain omega 3 fatty acids which have many health properties.


Previously I posted a blog dedicated to the health benefits of almonds.  A recent review (2) summarised the available evidence on nuts and body weight and weight loss.  The authors write  “There are claims that energy-dense foods are especially problematic for weight loss and maintenance. Nuts are among the most energy-dense foods consumed, yet the literature consistently documents little impact of their ingestion on body weight”  Nuts seem to satisfy the appetite, they make us feel full and may therefore prevent us overeating on other, less nutritious foods.  This could be due to the fact that, as well as healthy fats, nuts also contain protein and release their energy very slowly into the bloodstream,they have a very low glycaemic index or GI. Evidence also suggests that not all of the fat in nuts is absorbed into the body, much of it being passed out in the stool. 



Cracking a few nuts this Christmas may be a great way to boost health!


(1)University of Copenhagen
(2) Mattes RD et al.  2008.  Impact of peanuts and tree nuts on body weight and healthy weight loss in adults. J Nutr 2008;138:1741S-1745S


Written by Ani Kowal

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