Dark Chocolate, the Decadent Treat that can Make You Smarter


If you’re like me, the mere mention of dark chocolate is enough to make your mouth water. With a sweet, smooth flavor that pairs well with virtually any desert dish, chocolate may just rein supreme in the world of treats. Milk chocolate certainly has its merit, but its purity (and positive health impact!) is greatly diluted by the sugar, cream and milk solids commonly added to the chocolate to give it a milder, sweeter flavor. If you want to partake of a purer cocoa with a serious kick of good health and smarts, along with some extra decadence, opt for the richer choice of dark chocolate. You’ve likely heard that dark chocolate is good for your heart. What you may not know is that this delicious treat is also good for your brain.

Dark chocolate’s health benefits comes mostly from its main ingredient: the cocoa bean. This amazing bean is packed with antioxidants, which fight free radicals that can harm cells and have a serious negative impact on your health. Cocoa beans are rich in a particular type of antioxidant known as flavonoids. Flavonoids help reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure and have been linked to greater vascular health and less overall risk of cardiovascular disease. So flavonoids positively impact your heart health. A recent study suggests that flavonoids also have a positive impact on your brain.            

The study on dark chocolate was conducted by the University of Nottingham. Patients consumed a chocolate drink containing the same flavanols found in dark chocolate.  The results? Patients experienced increased blood flow to certain areas of the brain for up to three hours. More blood to the brain means more oxygen to the brain, which heightens cognitive ability.  The study also went on to suggest that these dark chocolate flavanols may improve cognitive function in those with sleep deprivation and fatigue, and they flavanols may enhance brain function in adults over 50 as well.

Dark chocolate has earned its place among the ranks of superfoods for its myriad of health benefits. Indulge in about an ounce daily for a boost of good health and a sweet, satisfying treat. Bear in mind that the higher the cocoa content in your chocolate, the darker the chocolate, and the more flavonoids you can benefit from. Check the ingredients on your dark chocolate product for a high cacao content (at least 60%) with no unneeded-and unhealthy-fillers like hydrogenated oils, to ensure you are getting the most health benefit. The satisfaction of treating yourself to dark chocolate has never been sweeter, for your taste buds, your heart health and your brain power.

References: http://www.medsci.org/press/cocoa.htmlhttp://www.med.umich.edu/umim/food-pyramid/dark_chocolate.htm

Originally posted 2013-10-28 13:02:38.

Butyric Acid, One Reason Real Butter is a Healthy Food


Butter, that creamy condiment and delicious baking ingredient, may be one of the most beloved and well-known dairy products of all time. Made simply by churning milk or cream and removing the liquid (buttermilk), butter is an essential ingredient in any chef’s refrigerator and a must-have on countless dinner tables. It’s hard to find a downside to butter, unless you consider its possible impact on your health. Butter is renowned for its high saturated fat content, which is thought to contribute to high cholesterol levels and heart disease. But before you rashly resign yourself to a butter-free diet, you may want to consider a compound in butter, commonly known as butyric acid, which actually yields a number of healthy benefits for your body.

Real butter, not to be confused with high trans fat, commercial substitutes such as margarine, contains just a few ingredients: milk solids (proteins), butterfat and water. One element in these milk solids is the short fatty acid chain: butyric acid. Butyric acid is naturally produced in milk and butter, has a rancid smell and a bitter taste. That may not sound too appetizing, but butyric acid’s smell and flavor isn’t noticeable in fresh butter. And once ingested, this fatty acid can actually provide your body with a boost of health. Here are a few of the butter-fueled benefits of butyric acid:  

Butyric acid may promote better metabolic health: A study in which mice were fed butyric acid resulted in the mice exhibiting a lower rate of insulin resistance, a condition that can lead to type-2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and also accelerate the aging process. The mice also showed reduced adiposity (obesity) and more efficient metabolic function.

Butyric acid promotes colon health: Butyric acid fuels colonocytes (colon cells), thereby providing vital energy for your colon. Butyrate also facilitates the absorption of electrolytes, which are vital chemical compounds that help keep you hydrated and maintain proper body function.

Butyric acid may be an anti-carcinogen: Some studies suggest that butyric acid may produce anti-carcinogenic affects. Anti-carcinogens refer to elements that help protect against and reduce the severity of cancers.

Butyric acid is an anti-inflammatory: Butyric acid’s anti-inflammatory properties help prevent inflammation of the colon. Colon inflammation can lead to IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and other serious health problems.

Butyric acid is anti-microbial: Short chain fatty acids, such as butyric acid, have been shown to produce anti-microbial effects and help reduce the growth of oral bacteria.

If you thought butter should be eliminated from your diet, the good news is that this good-tasting food delivers some health-boosting benefits, due in large part to its butyric acid content. So top off your favorite dish with a pad of butter, and enjoy some smooth, creamy flavor with a side of good health.

References: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2699871/http://jmm.sgmjournals.org/content/59/2/141.fullhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9361838http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23140283http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21333271

Originally posted 2013-10-24 10:14:14.

Natural vs. Synthetic Vitamin C

vitamin cWhile generally, unprocessed foods are healthier than manufactured ones, science is often successful at manufacturing exact replicas of micronutrients (like vitamin C).  Synthesization in a lab, rather than through natural biological processes in God’s creation, does not automatically make something unhealthy or inferior.  Manufactured versions of naturally occurring micronutrients can still be considered “natural” when they integrate seamlessly with natural biological processes.  The evidence suggests that such is the case with vitamin C.

Every so often people tell me that synthesized vitamin C is not as effective as naturally occurring vitamin C or vitamin C “complexes.”  All current studies, however, indicate that synthesized vitamin C and naturally occurring vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) are identical; they have no difference in molecular structure or bioavailability.

It’s true that vitamin C occurs in plants as part of a nutrient “complex”  and that the nutrients in that complex may provide additional benefits, but the ascorbic acid component in the complex is the same as synthesized ascorbic acid.  Moreover, most mammals (other than humans) are capable of producing vitamin C internally, and when they do, it’s as pure L-ascorbic acid, not a complex of any other nutrients.  The L-ascorbic acid that these mammals produce is effective at carrying out all the important functions of vitamin C, like collagen and carnitine synthesis.

That being said, it’s clear that vitamin C isn’t the only health promoting factor in vitamin C rich foods.  Vitamin C in whole foods works synergistically with a number of other nutrients for increased health benefits.  For example, a study that compared vitamin C supplementation to consumption of orange juice with an equal amount of Vitamin C found that orange juice provided superior anti-oxidant protection.  Whole foods like oranges contain hundreds of healthy phytonutrients that researchers are only just starting to understand.  There’s no debate that a diet rich in whole foods offers tremendous benefits over a diet of processed foods that depends heavily on micronutrient supplementation.  Yet, in and of itself, synthesized vitamin C is exactly the same as natural occurring vitamin C and functions the same in the body.

Synthesized ascorbic acid can have a valid place in a creation-based diet.  Vitamin C supplementation is an affordable and easy way to ensure that the body is getting enough of one of the most important nutrients for optimum health.  In addition to being a powerful anti-oxidant, Vitamin C is essential for a healthy cardiovascular system, normal metabolic function, and collagen production (one of the most abundant proteins in the body).  When applied topically, synthesized vitamin C is also affective at reducing UV ray induced skin damage.   The benefits of supplemental vitamin C, specifically, are also supported by an ever growing number of studies.  Thus, when it comes to my personal health, I’ll keep eating a creation-based diet, high in natural sources of vitamin C, as well as supplementing with at least 500 mg of vitamin C daily.


Originally posted 2013-03-13 23:00:47.