KRON 4 | Chocolate 101

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Studies report that chocolate is good for your health, but how so and which ones? Cacao (pronounced “kuh-KOW”), cocoa, Dutch cocoa, and chocolate… what’s the difference? Here’s how it all breaks down along with the ones to eat and ones to avoid.

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Heart Benefits

Cocoa and cocoa-containing foods contain high levels of flavanols (“FLAY-va-nole”) — an antioxidant that reduces inflammation and dilates (widens) blood vessels. According to extensive research, eating chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, improves the markers of cardiovascular health. Consuming flavanols from chocolate is associated with a lower rate of:

  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Atrial fibrillation (10 to 20% lower)
  • Death from cardiovascular events

The cocoa may improve:

  • Endothelial function — The endothelium is the inner lining of your arteries. Its function declines with age and puts you at increased risk for heart disease.
  • Lipid levels Lipids include your total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides.
  • Blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance This is when your body does not respond properly to the insulin it makes which can lead to type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes puts you at risk for heart disease.
  • Decrease cardiac fibrosis (scar tissue formation) as well as electrical and structural changes of the heart.

The Cacao vs Cocoa   

Continue reading “KRON 4 | Chocolate 101”

KRON 4 | Chocolate for Your Heart

Atrial fibrillation, also called AFib or AF, is the most common irregular heart rhythm in the United States where 2.7 to 6.1 million Americans are living with this dangerous condition. Here’s AFib explained, the risks, and how this one food affects these abnormal heart beats.

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A normal heart rhythm ejects blood from the heart into the aorta which distributes oxygenated blood to all parts of the body.

What is Atrial Fibrillation? 

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is an irregular heart rhythm caused by abnormal electrical signals in the upper chambers of the heart.

AFib is on the rise because the older you are, the greater the risk of developing AFib. Finding effective ways to prevent AFib and identify treatments for AFib is a public health priority.

Typically someone one with AFib has to take a blood-thinner to prevent blood clots from forming and reduce stroke risk. Blood thinners can have dangerous side effects, such as severe bleeding, coughing up blood, bruising without an injury, and dizziness.

High Blood Pressure Link

If you have high blood pressure, AFib needs to be on your radar. People with high blood pressure (which usually occurs with advancing age) accounts for 14% to 22% of AFib cases.

Health Effects from Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

Atrial fibrillation is dangerous. It is a risk factor for:

  • Stroke — 4 to 5 times higher risk compared with people without AFib. Strokes caused by AFib complications tend to be more severe than strokes with other underlying causes.
  • Heart failure AFib decreases coronary blood flow.
  • Cognitive decline and dementia — One gallon of blood goes through your brain every four minutes. If blood flow is impaired such as from AFib, brain function suffers. Persistent AFib decreases blood flow to the brain.
  • Death
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One gallon of blood goes through the brain every 4 minutes.

AFib Symptoms

Some people don’t have any symptoms, but many experience one or more of the following:

    • Irregular heart beat (feels like your heart is skipping beats)
    • Heart palpitations (racing, fluttering, or pounding)
    • Lightheadedness
    • Extreme fatigue / discomfort
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pain / sweating (mimicking a heart attack)

The Chocolate Study   

Continue reading “KRON 4 | Chocolate for Your Heart”

Fit Find | Wasa® Flaxseed Crispbread

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If you’re looking for a cracker for spreading your Nuttzo™ and Fiordifrutta™ or for diving into a bowl of Aubergine® Fire-Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Spread (my favorite!), I haven’t come across any that are healthier than Wasa® Flax Seed Crispbread.

One thing though… you can’t compare this cracker to a salty, buttery club cracker or any other cracker processed with oil and salt. In fact, you may even say Wasa® Flax Seed Crispbread tastes like ‘sawdust’. Yes, really. But don’t go away yet!    Continue reading “Fit Find | Wasa® Flaxseed Crispbread”

Fit Find | NuttZo™ Seven Nut & Seed Butter

If you’re looking for a natural nut butter to spread on your favorite PB&J, here’s one I’m absolutely crazy about: Nuttzo™ Seven Nut & Seed Butter ‘Power Fuel’. It’s not only yummy, but offers the benefits of seven different nuts and seeds. You can get it either crunchy or smooth. Spread it on sliced bananas and apples too for a healthy snack with staying power.

NOTE: Nut phytonutrients (plant nutrients) have been shown to help fight free-radical damage, prevent inflammation, and lower blood cholesterol. See ♥ Daily Dose | What’s Your Nut I.Q.?.

Nuttzo_Power Fuel-275x487Nut oils tend to separate from the solids in natural nut butters like NuttZo™ since they aren’t made with unhealthy hydrogenated vegetable oils which prevent separation. My longstanding tip to make mixing easier has been to place the jar upside down until ready to open and stir. Nuttzo already has that figured out and is sold upside down!

Ingredients: organic cashews, organic almonds, organic brazil nuts, organic flax seeds, organic hazelnuts, organic chia seeds, organic pumpkin seeds, sea salt. No added sugar or oil.

One serving (2 Tbsp) contains a whopping 975 mg of omega-3 fatty acids (alpha linolenic). You want to try to get in 1,000 to 1,600 mg of omega-3’s per day.

Lower Your Blood Pressure with Food

Did you know a sweet potato has ___ much more potassium as banana?
Did you know that a sweet potato has 65% more potassium than a banana?

“Low Sodium”, “Salt-Free”, “Reduced Sodium”, “Unsalted”. Living a healthy life today means you don’t shake or utter that four-letter word… SALT. You’ve banished it from your favorite recipes, family table and your heart-healthy pantry. But the dietary approach to managing your blood pressure involves another key mineral — not just salt.

Low levels of potassium in your diet may be just as much of a risk factor for high blood pressure as high levels of sodium. Aim for a balance of less salt and more potassium in your daily eating plan. Here’s why…

Potassium helps to:

  • Relax your blood vessel walls¹ (contributing to more flexible arteries)
  • Lower your blood pressure (by helping you excrete excess sodium through your urine)
  • Reduce damage to your arteries (from the decrease in pressure)

Not only do studies suggest a link between low potassium levels and high blood pressure² but to higher glucose/insulin levels as well. See VIDEO: Potassium and Type 2 Diabetes   

Products containing potassium

Not Just Bananas

Eat more potassium-rich foods, such as a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and legumes — not just bananas. Many people think of bananas when they think of foods high in potassium, but they are actually near the bottom of the list of high potassium foods (over 400 mg. potassium per serving):    Continue reading “Lower Your Blood Pressure with Food”