Four ways that cocoa can supercharge your health

You may not know it, but cocoa makes other so-called superfoods pale in comparison. That’s pretty sweet if you ask me!

Offering your health a titan of benefits, raw cocoa can supercharge your health in many different ways! Here are some top health benefits of cocoa.

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Four health benefits of cocoa

#1: Cocoa can save your skin

Dealing with problem skin? No problem – cocoa can help! Brimming with antioxidants that are fantastic for repairing skin cells and neutralising harmful free radicals, cocoa is suitable for treating just about any skin issue, according to dermatologist Ava Shamban.

#2: Cocoa crushes sugar cravings

Pass up on the sweet treats and take a whiff of cocoa instead. Cocoa powder has a rich, seriously indulgent aroma, so you’ll often be satisfied by simply smelling it, says founder of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation Alan Hirsch.

#3: Cocoa promotes heart health

Cocoa is fantastic for treating your ticker. The flavonoids in cocoa are linked to a number of cardio perks, from reducing LDL or “bad” cholesterol, to lowering blood pressure, according to director of Women and Heart Disease at Lenox Hill Hospital Suzanne Steinbaum.

#4: Cocoa enhances your mood

Cocoa can make more than just your taste buds happy … it can make you happy, too! Containing more than 300 compounds, many of which enhance your brain chemistry, cocoa powder is the ultimate mood-booster, explains author of Eat Your Way to Happiness Elizabeth Somer. Some of these compounds boost your serotonin and endorphin levels, both of which generate a happy mood.

With all these amazing benefits, I don’t know about you, but I’ll sure be enjoying many mugs of hot cocoa this winter!

Lose your unwanted belly fat with coconut oil!

Coconut oil is one of the most weight loss-friendly fats in the world. Rich in a combination of fatty acids, it promotes optimal metabolism function which ultimately helps with weight loss!

Several studies show that by simply adding coconut oil to your diet, you can lose fat – especially the “dangerous” fat in your abdominal area, which has been linked to chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

To learn more about how coconut oil can help you lose weight and belly fat, keep reading!

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Four ways that coconut oil helps with fat loss

#1: Coconut oil boosts your energy levels

Coconut oil is comprised mainly of medium-chain triglycerides AKA MCTs and lauric acid. This essential fatty acid metabolises differently in comparison to other saturated fats, such as those you find in dairy and meat products.

Your body doesn’t store MCTs as fat, but instead transports them directly to your liver, where they’re quickly converted into energy. So what does this mean for your weight loss efforts?

By adding two or three tablespoons to your daily dietary regimen, you’ll boost your energy levels by an average of 5% for a full 24-hour period! I find that adding coconut oil to my morning smoothie is the best way to get my energy kick for the day.

#2: Coconut oil decreases hunger and curbs pesky cravings

You already know that MCTs go directly to your liver during digestion. Not only does this provide your body with a natural energy boost, the processing of MCTs also forms keytone bodies, which have the added benefit of reducing hunger and curbing cravings.

I recommend enjoying two to three tablespoons of coconut oil each day to feel fuller for longer and to kick the habit of snacking on unhealthy foods between meals. You can enjoy the oil in tea, coffee, smoothies or directly from the jar!

#3: Coconut oil burns fat amazingly fast

Are you looking to reduce your daily caloric intake and lose weight faster without compromising your health? Well, then, you’re in the right place. Coconut oil enhances your body’s ability to digest food and absorb nutrients so that you can eat less without feeling unsatisfied, tired or weak all the time.

Plus, because coconut oil is a natural mood enhancer, eating it daily will help you reduce your stress levels and feel more motivated to partake in heart-healthy activities, which will only help you burn off persistent fat stores even faster – bonus!

Consuming coconut oil regularly will power up your body’s fat-burning potential – especially for losing stubborn belly fat. It will also regulate your appetite, improve digestion and just make you feel great!

#4: Coconut oil helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels

Because your body absorbs coconut oil easily without the need for digestive enzymes, your pancreas is less stressed and able to produce insulin more effectively. Plus, as a saturated fat, coconut oil makes it easier for your cells to bind with insulin during digestion.

When your body has the required amounts of insulin, your cells get the glucose (or blood sugar) that they need to fuel your daily activities. So how exactly does this translate into belly fat loss?

A daily serving or two of coconut oil will help your body maintain healthy blood sugar levels by promoting the efficient use and production of insulin. As a result this will provide your cells with more glucose to give you energy and help you lose fat.

PS: Just remember – coconut oil is high in calories, so it’s important that you use it in moderation. I recommend limiting your intake to one or two tablespoons a day to avoid unwittingly sabotaging your weight loss efforts. Good luck!

Six things that help me conquer my sweet tooth over the festive season

Are you high? Before you say no, think about what you’ve put in your mouth lately. If it includes anything from thick, creamy milkshakes and rainbow-coloured cereal to chicken nuggets and cold cuts, there’s a pretty good chance you’re riding a sugar high right now.

 

Don’t feel bad – you’re not the only person buzzed with a sugar addiction right now. In fact, research shows that nearly a quarter of one’s daily caloric intakes – 325 calories on averages – comes from foods like baked goods, soft drinks, fruit juices and desserts. In other words, from sugar.

 

I find that year-end is the toughest time of the year to try and take control of your sugar cravings. Do you agree? Here are seven tips that help me take control of my sweet tooth that really work!

 

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Six ways to curb your sweet cravings this December

#1: Eat a decent breakfast every day

Did you know that 90% of sugar addicts skip breakfast? That’s right. They wait and get a big hit of sugar at around 10am. When you eat breakfast, you prevent the drop in blood sugar that makes you crave sugar later in the day. A hearty, nutritious breakfast doesn’t have to take you long to whip up – try a delicious low-calorie smoothie or avocado baked eggs.

#2: Choose fruit whenever you can

Satisfy your sweet tooth with bananas, apples, and berries; all of which temper natural sugar with fibre and loads of antioxidants. Dried fruit and fruit juices will also do in a pinch. Just be aware that they pack far more calories than fresh fruit. I limit myself to a quarter cup or less of dried fruit or one cup of fruit juice each day. Frozen fruit smoothies are another great healthy way to get your sugar fix.

 

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#3: Never cross the 150 calorie line!

So you’re at a Christmas party or a dinner and you simply can’t say no to a chocolate or a cupcake. Let’s be realistic – this happens! But when it does, be sure to stick to 100 to 150 calorie portions and 16 g of sugar or less.

#4: Plan your indulgences for right after dinner

You can’t toss out or give away all the sweet treats you get given for Christmas, I know. So the trick is to indulge in them at the right time – after dinner. Late-night sweet fixes give you a pure, unaltered sugar rush. Treat yourself right after dinner instead and you’ll reduce (though not counter) the insulin-spiking effect.

 

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#5: Cut out “overt” sugars as far as possible

Tackle the worst offenders first: Sucrose-laden treats! Yup, I’m looking you right in the eye, frappuccinos. If you drink sugary drinks like these every day, try get into the happen of having one every other day instead.

#6: Enter a sugar rehab

You’re an addict. Therefore, you need to detox before you can fully recover. It takes five days to fully overcome your cravings for sugar, and you’re bound to feel awful for about three of them. Prepare to be edgy and irritable while you resist temptation for the first three days. By day five, you’ll feel like a whole new person – I promise! And, you’ll have learned that a little sugar goes a much longer way than you previously thought.

I hope these tips work well for you. Good luck!

Ten unique strategies to help you beat your chocolate cravings (yes, really!)

Halloween is only a few days away – will you be able to stop yourself from reaching for the sweet treats? Here’s a dose of reality that might have some effect on you: Studies show that people gain 2.5 kg or more during the holidays, and that they hold onto that weight…

 

Though the “holiday season” typically applies to the festive season, many people start indulging when the pumpkins come out – and don’t stop until the 1st of January! So, allow me to become the voice of reason right now: Those few minutes of sugary, gooey bliss aren’t worth the inevitable toll on your health, waistline and sanity.

 

These unique battle-tested tips will help you crush your cravings and avoid holiday weight gain!

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Ten effective ways to curb your chocolate cravings

#1: Keep the enemy out of the house!

This is rule number one. Know your enemy, which is chocolate in this case, and keep it out of your house, car, glove compartment, desk and anywhere else it will be a temptation.

#2: Pinch your nose or earlobes for ten seconds

This is an ancient acupuncture secret. Acupuncturists believe that pressure points restore balance in your energy, as imbalances and blockage of energy cause cravings.

#3: Use brighter bulbs in your dining room

Dim lights lower your inhibitions and let you feel better about eating more. 100 watt bulbs work well – just be sure your fixtures can handle them.

#4: Add vinegar to your diet

Apple cider or organic red wine fit the bill. Vinegar improves digestion by keeping food in your stomach longer, reducing the hunger hormone known as ghrelin. The result? You’ll feel fuller for longer!

#5: Up your magnesium levels

Intense chocolate cravings can be signs of magnesium deficiency. Eat more leafy green vegetables – they’re packed with this mineral. Otherwise, consider a magnesium supplement.

#6: Light a vanilla-scented candle

There’s a theory that the scent of vanilla reduces sugar and chocolate cravings, as immersing yourself in a scent all day will desensitise you. Reader’s Digest called it the “Christmas Dinner Syndrome” – when the person who’s been cooking doesn’t eat as much as their guests because they’ve been smelling dinner all day.

#7: Brush your teeth

Minty toothpaste cleanses your palate and will kill the taste of anything you crave. You’re fat less likely to snack if you’ve just brushed your teeth – anything you try will taste awful!

#8: Cut out sweeteners in your coffee

Sweeteners spike your insulin levels, which leave you with a huge drop later, causing you to crave more. If you must use a sweetener, try stevia.

#9: Eat balanced meals

You have cravings when you’re malnourished or stressed. If you’re nutritionally satisfied, your less likely to suffer intense cravings in the first place. Eat protein with every meal, and you’ll find yourself craving less unhealthy stuff throughout the day.

#10: Wait ten minutes

All – yes, all – cravings pass. If you can distract yourself for 10-15 minutes with a short burst of exercise, you’ll burn calories and release some endorphins while forgetting about that chocolaty treat! Try a brisk walk around the block, do 20 push-ups, or climb a few flights of stairs.

Here’s to a slimmer waistline this holiday season!

A cinnamon cup of coffee can curb your sugar cravings

It takes a while to acclimate to the bitter taste of black coffee. Even once you reach this level of coffee-obsessed, it isn’t always appealing. Skip the cream and sugar, and instead satisfy your craving for something sweet with this cinnamon-enhanced recipe.

 

Cinnamon is packed with antioxidants, and is flavourful enough to tap in for your usual packet of sugar.

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How to make a cinnamon cup of coffee

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coffee
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp fat-free milk

Method:

Mix the cinnamon and milk into your cup of coffee.

Tip: For a foamy treat, froth the milk first.

Five healthy hacks to beat your sugar cravings

Do you often crave sugary foods? Then I’m sure you know how easy it is to slide into momentary high-sugar-impact bliss!  But not to worry – I’ve developed an arsenal of tactics to conquer them that I’m going to share with you today!

 

Taking control of your sugar cravings will promote good health and make sure you don’t pile on unwanted weight. So, the next time those dreaded cravings hit, try these strategies. They’ve helped me stay on track – and I think they could help you, too!

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Five ways to take control of sugar cravings

#1: Take a glutamine supplement

Meet glutamine – the rock star amino acid that helps balance blood sugar and reduce your sugar cravings! You can purchase this multitasking amino acid in capsules or powder (which you can blend into protein shakes, smoothies or water).

#2: Opt for sour over sweet

When you retrain your taste buds, you become way more sugar-sensitive and also start to appreciate other flavours, like sour foods. Sour foods can help reduce your sugar cravings and provide your body with probiotics, which support digestive health.

#3: Focus on savoury foods

Focus on salty or spicy flavoured foods instead of sugary ones. For example: Mineral-rich salts and fresh basil. One of my favourites is slow-roasted almonds with rosemary and sea salt. Crunchy decadence can knock out the most die-hard sweet tooth!

#4: Add cinnamon to your coffee

Cinnamon reduces blood glucose levels because it slows down stomach emptying and makes you feel fuller faster. You’ll only need about a teaspoon per day to do the trick. I sprinkle mine into bulletproof coffee and it tastes divine! Make sure the cinnamon you use is fresh since its polyphenols and active ingredients degrade overtime.

#5: Always stay hydrated

Does that half-eaten tub of ice-cream in your freezer become your siren call at 10pm? Don’t even let the enemy into your house – but if it strikes anyway, be armed! One study at the University of Washington found that just 250 ml of water completely curbed nighttime cravings for everyone. Try it!

Sugar cravings can derail your best dietary efforts. Let’s band together and fight them!

Sip away your PMS symptoms with this delicious cashew chocolate smoothie

It’s not at all unusual to sit on the couch with a heating pad and a big bowl of chocolate anything during your period. The food cravings are borderline impossible to ignore, but devouring an entire dessert probably won’t make you feel much better.

 

It’ll do the opposite in fact… After indulging in something yummy, you’re more likely to feel tired and bloated. Luckily, my creamy, chocolaty smoothie satisfies those sugary cravings while easing PMS symptoms at the same time!

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How this cashew chocolate smoothie can help ease your PMS symptoms

This smoothie of mine is made with yoghurt and chocolate soy milk, which will help satisfy your sweet tooth while providing your body with calcium, which has been shown to help reduce PMS.

It also contains spinach, which is a great source of fibre and B vitamins; also proven to decrease PMS symptoms. The banana and cashews offer magnesium, which helps relieve bloating and also eases cramps.

Then, just throw in some avocado, since studies show healthy fats as such can also help ease PMS symptoms. Ready to sip PMS goodbye?

Cashew chocolate PMS prevention smoothie recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup non-fat Greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 1/2 cup chocolate soy milk
  • 1/6 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup filtered water

For garnish:

  • Sprinkling of dark chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend on high-speed until completely smooth.
  2. Pour the smoothie into a tall glass, then top with the chocolate chips.
  3. Enjoy immediately.