Beneficial Wonders of Dark Chocolate.

Welcome to the dark side of chocolate! It’s National Dark Chocolate Day today! Is dark chocolate something you like or are you more of a milk chocolate fan? I enjoy both, but I have to be in a “mood” for either one! I have learned, however, that there are benefits to enjoying dark chocolate. Dark chocolate meaning “a 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa” (Source: HealthLine.com). Keep in mind, as I share the information of dark chocolate, while it is beneficial to your health, I (and the experts) are not telling you to eat dark chocolate in high quantities – after all, 100 grams of chocolate would be 3.5 ounces. While there may be many nutrients and benefits to dark chocolate, there are also 600 or so calories and don’t forget, there is sugar in most brands. Consuming 600 calories of chocolate on a regular basis is not good for anyone (Source: HealthLine.com)!

In a previous time in my life, I enjoyed working for a healthcare system in my area and I was part of a healthy heart program for women. I would assist in setting up community events that featured cardiologists and other physicians, and they too, had similar information to share about eating dark chocolate!

So let’s continue. There is a powerhouse of nutrients in dark chocolate:

  • 11 grams of fiber
  • Packed with: potassium, phosphorus, zinc, selenium
  • Check out these RDA’s (Recommended Dietary Allowances) for the following:
    • 67% Iron
    • 58% Magnesium
    • 89% Copper
    • 98% Manganese
      (Source: HealthLine.com).

Let’s talk about antioxidants. There are a lot of organic compounds in dark chocolate that are “biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include: polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others (Source: HealthLine.com).” So what does this actually mean? What are antioxidants?

Definition from MedlinePlus:

Antioxidants are man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage. Antioxidants are found in many foods, including fruits and vegetables. They are also available as dietary supplements.

Eating foods that are high in antioxidants have been known to help you stay healthy and also may lower the risk of certain diseases.

Consuming dark chocolate may also help lower your blood pressure and also help reduce your risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that eating dark chocolate increased HDL (good cholesterol) and lower total LDL (bad cholesterol) in men that had elevated cholesterol levels (Source: HealthLine.com).

It also appears that chomping on some of the dark chocolate can help improve blood flow through the body, so much so, that researchers are looking into how dark chocolate can improve brain function. Cocoa contains caffeine and theobromine, known stimulants, which may be why cocoa can improve brain function for short-term periods (Source: HealthLine.com).

So there you have it. Go enjoy SOME, not LOTS, of dark chocolate! Do you have a favorite? If so, share with us! Keep checking out the blog all through February, I’ll be sharing more heart healthy info, recipes and products!

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The Healthy Benefits of Eating Red Cabbage.

Love it or hate it, red cabbage has some awesome health benefits that you should know about. Red cabbage is often used to enhance the flavor of a favorite dish but it has a powerhouse of healthy activity that’s awesome for your body. Red cabbage is commonly found in salads or as a side dish to compliment certain types of meats. Red cabbage is also used for making sauerkraut. Red cabbage has a lot of dietary fiber and is also very low in calories.

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Red cabbage is known for being full of phytochemicals, minerals, vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. Let’s list out some of the essential components:

  • Thiamin
  • Riboflavin
  • Folate
  • Calcium
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Vitamins
    • A
    • The B’s
    • C
    • E
    • K
  • Dietary Fiber

With having such high levels of antioxidants, red cabbage can be considered to be an important component to help prevent certain cancers.

Antioxidants are substances that can neutralize free radicals, which are the harmful byproducts of cellular metabolism. These free radicals are responsible for various serious diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Red cabbage is rich in antioxidants, including anthocyanins and indoles. This is actually where the purple color comes from, as some of these phytochemicals normally show in this hue. The rich coloring is proof of just how powerful these vegetables are for your overall health. The indoles in red cabbage have been connected to reducing breast cancer in women in a number of studies. Vitamin A has also been connected with reducing the chances of lung cancer.

Source: Organicfacts.net

So what other ways can red cabbage help your body? It helps support a healthy immune system, it can help treat ulcers, it is great for your skin and your eyes and can aid in weight loss.

In the way the free radicals help prevent cancer that are mentioned above, they can also assist in the anti-aging process. Antioxidants are known to help reduce the signs of wrinkles, and, along with the high levels of vitamin A, all of these help with regrowth of skin cells and keeping elasticity of the skin.

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I was always told to eat my carrots when I was growing up because the beta carotene helps your eyesight. The same is true with red cabbage. Since red cabbage is high in vitamin A, it can assist in preventing cataract formation and macular degeneration as you age.

Drinking red cabbage juice has been a homemade remedy used for years as a way to help reduce inflammation and pain that ulcers can cause within the gastrointestinal system. Glutamine, which is a specific amino acid found in large amounts in red cabbage, is what helps reduce that pain and inflammation. Drink some red cabbage juice up if you’ve been feeling funky in your guts!

But there’s more! Red cabbage has also been found to be helpful in preventing Alzheimer’s Disease, helpful to protect against osteoporosis, arthritis, and other types of inflammation (Source: Organicfacts.net).

If you’re looking for a tasty and delicious red cabbage, Hengstenberg has a wonderful red cabbage and red cabbage with apple. Red cabbage can be eaten cold as a salad or you could warm it up for a few minutes and add it as a side dish with just about any meal. Hengstenberg also has a lot of neat recipes on their website – try checking out the Sauerkraut & Red Cabbage Lollipops! There’s even a video there to help you prepare this recipe! The “lollipops” actually look really appetizing!

Hengstenberg red cabbage is considered vegan and is preservative free!

 

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There are only a few words of caution with those who may suffer from hypothyroidism, you may want to discuss with your doctor any concerns about eating red cabbage. There is also a recommendation that pregnant women avoid eating red cabbage while pregnant as babies may develop colic if mothers have eating cabbage while pregnant. A lot of the information I shared here today was taken from Organicfacts.net. Check out their website to read more in-depth information about red cabbage. As always, if you have any medical conditions concerning certain foods, it’s best to consult with your physician before consuming. Nibble, nibble!