Here are 10 reasons why you MUST eat dark chocolate every single day:
1. Compared to milk chocolate eaters, those who downed dark chocolate ate 15% fewer calories without even trying and reported fewer cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods.
2. Dark chocolate contains unique natural substances, including some that truly create a sense of euphoria, similar to the feeling of being in love!
3. Dark chocolate contains magnesium, a mineral that can help alleviate PMS symptoms, including cramps, water retention, fatigue, depression, and irritability.
4. Chocolate contains the same type of antioxidants found in red wine and tea, which have been shown to boost brain activity.
5. Dark chocolate has been shown to help correct imbalances in the body related to stress, and can significantly reduce levels of stress hormones (a surge in stress hormones is linked to more belly fat).
6. Dark chocolate has a caffeine kick, but not too much. One ounce of 70% dark contains about 40 mg of caffeine, compared to 200 mg in 8 ounces of brewed coffee and 120 mg in strong black tea.
7. The antioxidants in cocoa trigger the walls of your blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure and improving circulation. That means better delivery of oxygen and nutrients to every cell.
8. Chocolate’s protective natural substances help prevent cholesterol from sticking to your artery walls, reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke.
9. Heart-attack survivors who ate chocolate just twice a week over a two-year period cut their risk of dying from heart disease threefold.
10. The type of saturated fat in dark chocolate isn’t the same as the artery-clogging saturated fat in a hamburger or whole milk. It’s a unique variety called stearic acid, much of which gets converted in the body to oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acid or “MUFA.”
And that’s not all - for more info on the benefits of dark chocolate and how it fits into a healthy eating plan, check out S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or wherever books are sold. I devoted an entire chapter to dark chocolate, which includes five recipes for my signature dark chocolate truffles (they take just five minutes), with seasonings ranging from balsamic vinegar to tangerine zest and loose green tea leaves. You'll also find deliciously healthy chocolate recipes like my Chocolate Pear Ginger Smoothie and Dark Chocolate Oatmeal.
When it comes to getting enough sleep, I have to admit that I struggle with my goal of clocking eight hours every night. And according to the National Sleep Foundation, I’m in the majority – over 60% of Americans miss the mark. But I’m fully aware that making sleep a priority is one of the most important things I can do for my health, and I encourage my clients to do the same.
Too little sleep has been shown to rev up hunger hormones, increase inflammation (a known trigger of premature aging and disease), up the risk of obesity, depression, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, and negatively impact emotional well-being, mental abilities, productivity, and performance. Yikes!
If you’re like me, you may think, “I don’t have time to sleep!” but getting even a little more can result in a big health pay off (including weight loss results). Inadequate sleep creates a "sleep debt," which is much like being overdrawn at a bank. Eventually, your body will demand that the debt be repaid, and until then, a cascade of side effects continue to wreak havoc on your health.
Despite how normal you may feel, research shows that the human body isn’t very good at adapting to a lack of sleep. Sleep-deprived drivers perform as badly as or worse than those who are intoxicated. Sleepiness also negatively affects memory, and can lead to mood swings and digestive problems. So what can you do? Here are eight effective strategies. Try to actively work on at least one at a time:
- Create a sleep-conducive environment. Ideal sleep conditions include a dark, quiet comfortable room that’s fairly cool (temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit and below 54 degrees will disrupt sleep).
- Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex – working on your laptop in bed is a known trigger of insomnia.
- Fit in some sort of physical activity – my favorite is walking. In S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches I dedicate an entire chapter to falling in love with walking, and explain why I think it’s the perfect form of exercise.
- Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine, like a bath followed by reading a book, meditating, or listening to soothing music.
- Try to finish eating at least 2 hours before your regular bedtime.
- Nix caffeine at least 6 hours before you hit the hay.
- Avoid alcohol close to bedtime. Although many people believe a glass of wine or a cocktail will help them fall asleep, research shows it actually disrupts sleep by causing you to wake up in the middle of the night.
- Maintain a regular sleep and wake time schedule, including on weekends. I know this is a really tough one. It’s the most difficult for me, since I don’t have a fixed work schedule, but I’m trying!
Fun fact: prior to the invention of the light bulb, we slept about 10 hours a night. Today, Americans average 6.9 hours of sleep on weeknights and 7.5 hours on weekends.
Every cell in your body has a “shelf life” – a stomach cell lives about a day or two, a skin cell about a month, and a red blood cell about four months. So each and every day, your body is busy making new cells to replace those that have “expired.” And how healthy those new cells are is directly determined by how well you’ve been eating. A diet filled with highly processed food that’s low on nutrients doesn’t give your body much to work with. I always say it’s like constructing a house with cardboard and tape instead of bricks and mortar. But a clean, nutrient rich, whole foods eating plan can help you build cells that work better, and are less susceptible to premature aging and disease.
On top of all that “regeneration” you’re always repairing your existing cells. This includes recovering from the wear and tear of exercise, as well as every day life (stress, pollution, stubbing your toe, etc.). Because your body is essentially one big miraculous 24/7 construction site, you can change the way you look and feel pretty quickly. Throughout my years as a practitioner, I’ve heard countless of clients say things like, “It’s only been a week, but I’ve been getting tons of compliments on how healthy and glowing my skin looks!” or “I have so much energy already after just a few days.” That’s the power of nutrition. When you really think about it, it’s just phenomenal!
Do you have a personal success story about how transforming your diet has affected your mood, energy, health, performance, or appearance? Please share it by reaching out to me on Twitter or Facebook.