Tweaklet #56 – Cacao vs Cocoa

OK boys and girls, let’s talk CHOCOLATE! I say boys and girls because for many of us chocolate brings out our big kid and our inner sweet tooth. But there’s so much confusion about chocolate. We’ve talked about it before and we will undoubtedly talk about it again but today let’s clarify the differences between cacao and cocoa.

Cacao and Cocoa both start off in the same place – from the seeds or beans within the seed pods produced by the cacao tree in South America. The raw bean is very bitter and is usually fermented and dried first.

To maintain the health benefits of the cacao bean manufacturers heat them at a low temperature, which separates the fatty part of the bean from the rest of it. And now it gets chopped up into nibs, just like healthy chocolate chips!

I say healthy because cacao really is! It is one of the most powerful superfoods known to man, that not only boosts our Feel Good hormone levels, but it can also lower our blood pressure, control our appetite,  regulate insulin levels,  boost our good gut bacteria and so much more!

Cocoa starts the same way cacao does. However, during processing, it’s heated at much higher temperatures. This results in a slightly sweeter flavour but, unfortunately, a lessening of its health benefits because of the change the high temperatures cause to the bean’s molecular structure.

So it doesn’t essentially mean cocoa and chocolate made from cocoa is bad, it just doesn’t have the same integrity and is therefore not nearly as beneficial for our health.

Plus in regular chocolate, a lot of other things are often added, like dairy products, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers and those dreaded unknowns called FILLERS. Urgh!

So when that chocolate craving kicks in look for a good quality dark chocolate or take time to seek out some cacao nibs for a purer source of chocolate.

Then you’ll be surprised how satisfying chocolate can be because of its many benefits, including stopping other cravings and helping you get a good night’s sleep.

Visit the Tweaklets YouTube Channel

Download my free E-Book here.

Tweaklet #51 – Demystifying Food

These days it can feel like you need a science degree to understand what products you are shopping for, even what food you are buying! We live in an ever-expanding world, full of information and with that comes choices!

So let’s simplify some of the jargon that has crept into the food world, so that we can make better and more importantly EASIER choices when buying food!

Firstly, what are antioxidants? Our bodies generate their own antioxidants, as do plants and other animals. Antioxidants are molecules that defend the body against free radicals, so they are very important….which leads me to the next commonly asked question, what are FREE RADICALS?!

Free radicals are a little more complicated to describe. They are compounds which are natural by-products of chemical processes that take place in our bodies, such as metabolism.

Whilst natural, they can easily get out of balance, due to the food we eat, the medicine we take and even the air we breathe. It’s a delicate balance and just as things like fast food, alcohol and chemicals can increase free radicals, food such as good quality meat, vegetables and fruits can maintain a healthy balance.

So, let’s recap. Antioxidants keep free radicals in check which means antioxidants are essential for our survival.  Our diets are an the main source of antioxidants and we can find them easily in things like berries, green tea and dark chocolate.

We’ll demystify more food jargon as we go along so that we can make some healthy food tweaks to our diet.

Visit the Tweaklets YouTube Channel

Download my free E-Book here.

Tweaklet #47 – Magnesium

It’s not essential to understand the role of vitamins and minerals but there is one macro mineral that is very useful to be aware of – and that’s magnesium.

Magnesium is an integral part of over 600 reactions in our body, including the metabolism of food, the transmission of nerve impulses, the synthesis of fatty acids and proteins. It helps balance our blood sugar and maintains the electrical impulses in our heart. Magnesium is critical for the mechanical functioning within tissues such as nerves and muscles and blood vessels.

We need to consume about 100 milligrams of magnesium per day. Unfortunately Magnesium levels are at much lower levels in our soil these days…..and Chemicals like chlorine and fluoride deplete it as do the regular intake of caffeine and sugar.

So what’s the food solution to keeping our magnesium levels up? Spinach, bananas, almonds, cacao  or really good dark chocolate, and seeds like Pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, chia, hemp and flax are all excellent sources of magnesium and easy to include in our diet.

Just at an every day level magnesium is really helpful. It plays a major part in balancing out anxiety and depression, it helps with the symptoms of PMS, helps calm those restless legs, eases muscle cramps and migraines. Magnesium also helps with memory retention and can assist with leveling out breathing problems and arrhythmia.

You can of course look at a magnesium supplement, if you think you are deficient or want to boost your levels, but I find that just making some of these food tweaks really make a difference to me. Well food is always a good place to start don’t you think?

Visit the Tweaklets YouTube Channel

Download my free E-Book here.

Tweaklet #36 – Chocolate

Nothing contentious today. No dangerous subjects. Nope, today we’re talking about chocolate! I do love a nice piece, or three…….. of chocolate. But like everything else, not all chocolate is created equal.

I am still a lover or milk chocolate and the odd bit of white chocolate but instead of doing us good those two choices really don’t.

Dark chocolate is a whole different thing, however. There are a number of pretty impressive benefits associated with eating dark chocolate.

First and foremost dark chocolate is full of antioxidants that neutralise free radicals and protect the body from damage. These antioxidants include vitamins and minerals and, significant studies have shown, that eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate definitely has a positive effect on heart health.

Lots of research is being done but there are correlations to dark chocolate lowering blood pressure,…..improving blood flow to the heart and brain…..an improvement to heart circulation….. and improved blood clotting.

Now don’t take this as a license to eat a chocolate bar a day, although I have to admit to being tempted, the results are positive and well-founded.

So, if you’re a chocolate lover, look for a good quality brand that is nice and dark – 70% and above.

Visit the Tweaklets YouTube Channel

Download my free E-Book here.