My last post was about the health benefits of eating broccoli. I like broccoli and have always known it to be healthy. Making better choices every day to slowly improve our health and happiness is what this blog is all about and broccoli, fixed different ways can be one of those smart choices.
But, believe it or not, chocolate has some of the same healthy properties as broccoli. Don’t get too excited though. I’m not talking about those milk chocolate kisses or the solid chocolate bunnies we all love on Easter morning. I’m talking about Dark Chocolate. And not just anything that says “dark” on the wrapper.
When selecting chocolate, look for higher cacao and lower sugar content. In general, the darker the chocolate, the higher the cacao content. For health benefits, choose chocolate with a cacao percentage of 70 or higher. I like the Ghiradelli Midnight Reverie with 86% cacao. A 45 gram (about 1 ½ oz) serving contains only 5 grams of sugar. And also contains 3 grams of protein. As a comparison the same serving of Special Dark Hershey bar contains over 21 grams of sugar. Needless to say the Hershey bar has very little of the health benefits shown below.
Since cacao is bitter, the higher percentage cacao, the more bitter it is. Most manufacturers add sugar to make it palatable so it is a balancing act to make it taste good and still retain the healthy properties. I would say it is an acquired taste but if you have cut back on your sugar intake like I have recommended a little sugar goes a long way.
Here are the six benefits of eating dark chocolate:
- It lowers blood pressure by increasing circulation and blood flow due to the flavonoids as well as increases blood vessel elasticity and slightly reduces LDL. This also improves eye health due to increased blood to the retina and brain.
- Contains antioxidants (more than green tea) which fight the free radicals in our bodies
- Contains reservatrol which is a strong anti-inflammatory and shields nerve cells from damage. This property also
- Contains polyphenols – this is what makes it bitter. Theobromine suppresses appetite and increases body’s ability to break down fat
- Lowered Insulin resistance which helps prevents diabetes
- Phenethylamine causes our brain to release dopamine which helps put us in a good mood
A bonus tip is that by combining dark chocolate with apples the healthy properties of each are enhanced so that the two foods become healthier than just eating them alone. Apples contain high antioxidant flavonoids and dark chocolate is rich in antioxidant catechins. The combination have been shown to break up blood clots and reduce risk of stroke.
Now I have finally given you something you can really sink your teeth into and enjoy. But, of course moderation is the key, especially if you are working on losing some weight
Have you tried any of the four suggestions I shared Monday about how to have more energy? Or maybe you were already doing those before I wrote about them. Well, I have a few more helpful tips today to help you have more energy and get more done in your day. Let me know if they help. I would love to hear how you are doing on your quest to have more energy.
Get a good night’s sleep. This is a really basic common sense idea but one we like to overlook. And how much is really enough? I won’t answer that one for you because everyone is different but most of us need between 6 and 8 hours. Recognize and respect your body’s sleep needs. And what if you have trouble drifting off when you lie down? Most experts agree on these guidelines;
- Keep a regular sleep schedule every day, even weekends
- Get to know and work with your body’s clock
- Eat right and get regular exercise
- Create a relaxing bed-time routine
- Control anxiety and stress, clearing your mind for sleep
- Be Social. When at work take short breaks and visit co-workers if your environment allows. At least eat lunch with other people and don’t talk shop. Seek out happy and funny people. Light banter and laughter will do wonders for your disposition and will help you have more energy. And in your free time surround yourself with healthy happy people. And nothing gives you a better outlook on life, boosting your energy, than helping someone less fortunate. Be a volunteer and share your talents and energy with others.
- Be Active. Less sitting and more activity. When at work walk outside briefly to get some fresh air and get your blood flowing. It will help your brain stay sharp. Just standing up, stretching and taking some deep breaths will help. When you sit back down are your desk you will have a clear mind and be ready to tackle the next task. Regular exercise is essential to have more energy and get more done. It is just the way our bodies are made. If you need exercise ideas check out my recent blogs. https://whenwesucceed.wordpress.com/2015/07/23/the-best-exercise-for-beginners/
- Whack your To-Do List Do you have items on your To-Do list that just never go away? Believe it or not these are holding you back from being productive and are weighing you down. Messy desk? Cluttered closet? Cobwebs in the corner? Unfinished project that just never seems to get done? Lots of studies have shown we subconsciously think about these things and they drag us down mentally and zap our energy level. Commit to knocking a few of these items off your list and it will give you energy and momentum to tackle larger tasks.
We all like to have more energy and feel better but sometimes we just lose sight of what it takes. Hopefully this will help keep you on track and will keep you going.
How is your energy level? Do you find yourself dragging out of bed each day feeling like you just fought a bear? And lost? Do you lose energy just before lunch then need a siesta after your Big Mac and fries? How about the mid-afternoon blahs? Need a little pick-me-up? I understand completely. Most everyone would like to have more energy. We are so busy going from task to task we forget to give our body and mind what they need to stay sharp. Here are four ways to have more energy throughout the day.
- Exercise first thing in the morning. I know many of you are “not a morning person” but this doesn’t have to be an all-out Insanity workout. I am just saying get up and move enough to get your blood pumping. Just a walk around the block or some jumping jacks. Or even a quick plank will get you going. Believe it or not, a little exercise first thing when you wake will help you have more energy during the day.
- Drink plenty of water. “Experts” say divide your weight in half and drink that many ounces each day. I say if that seems like too much (it is for me) adjust it a bit for you but just be consistent on your water intake. So many times your lack of energy is due to dehydration. A quality energy drink is a good way to keep you going and provides the water you need along with some important vitamins. Try Spark by Advocare.
- Eat every 3-4 hours. Start with a healthy breakfast. Then choose your snacks wisely as you go about your day. You will have more energy avoiding the roller coaster effect of up and down blood sugar levels which ultimately zap your energy.
- Make sure you are getting the nutrition your body requires, whether through a healthy balanced diet or by taking quality supplements. As I have discussed before it is practically impossible to get all our nutrients from our food so if we want to have more energy nutritional supplements are necessary. An excellent whole food multivitamin is Sun Nutrition Green Multivitamin and you can buy it on Amazon at http://amzn.to/1NAtzzv
This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to learning how to have more energy. Check back soon for a more comprehensive ebook that will explore other key ways to have more energy.