Health

Cocoa vs. Cacao… What’s the difference? 0

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As the “superfood” takeover is at a high, chances are you have been hearing a lot about goji berries, chia, dragonfruit, flax, acaihemp seeds, maca powder, and last but not least… cacao. But what is cacao? Is it just a fancy name for chocolate in disguise?

The most common misconception is that cocoa (think hot chocolate, M&M’s, chocolate chips, and the most commonly consumed forms of chocolate) and cacao (an amazing “superfood”) are the same thing, just spelled differently. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Chocolate is made of the beans from the cacao tree, so in essence, cacao is chocolate in it’s purest form. Not only is cacao a tasty treat, it is jam packed with benefits. Cocoa on the other hand, is not…

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Though cocoa does contain small amounts of cacao, it also contains other ingredients such as sugar (and lots of it), fat, unhealthy oils, and artificial flavorings. Yes, it’s delicious, but unfortunately… not so nutritious.

Cacao on it’s own has quite a unique and different flavor and consistency than the chocolate we all know and love. The cacao bean is quite bitter, whereas chocolate is sweet and creamy. This is due to the added sugar, cream, etc. The good news is, there are many types of “healthy” chocolates available to satisfy your sweet tooth.

How can I tell which chocolates are “healthy” you may ask. The easiest way to determine a “healthy” chocolate from a “not so healthy” chocolate is by looking at it’s percentage of cacao. Aim for 70% and higher to ensure your body reaps some of the healthy benefits of cacao including glowing skin and hearth health and avoids the not so healthy pitfalls of sugar, milk-fat, highly processed oils, and other not so nice ingredients found in cocoa. You can also find chocolates sweetened with agave, coconut syrup, palm sugar, and other natural sweeteners.

Remember, moderation is the key! If it is good old-fashioned chocolate you are craving, then indulge yourself and have a bite (or two)… but if you are looking for a sweet treat that may do more good than harm, give cacao a try. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Featured Product Of The Week: The Line Eraser 0

Tri Retinol Complex

This week’s featured product is SkinMedica’s Tri-Retinol Complex. This incredible product is known to it’s fans as “The Line Eraser” and has been touted by magazines such as Marie Claire.

This product combines three different forms of Vitamin A (or retinoids) including Retinyl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, and Retinol. This powerful complex helps to revive and revitalize the skin by reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as sun damaged skin, enhancing the skin’s tone and texture. Tri-Retinol Complex uses a special time released delivery system, allowing your skin to absorb these vitamins throughout the night, minimizing irritation.

Key ingredients include:

Retinyl Palmitate → a natural lipid that keeps the skin soft and subtle

Retinyl Acetate → a derivative of vitamin A that helps to rejuvenate sun-damaged skin

Retinol (Vitamin A) → helps to smooth dry, rough skin

For those who have already been on prescription retinoids or are seeking a more aggressive treatment, Tri-Retinol Complex ES may be the right fit for you. This product provides all of the benefits of Tri-Retinol Complex in an extra strength formula.

Apply a single pump to the face and neck each evening. As with all retinoid products, use sunscreen and limit sun exposure during usage. Avoid retinoids if you are pregnant, nursing, or planning to become pregnant. For more information on SkinMedica’s Tri-Retinol Complex please visit their official website.

Just My Cup Of Tea 0

tea time

If you’re like most people you find that there is no better way to start your day than with a warm beverage (and most likely some caffeine) in hand. If tea happens to be your beverage of choice than you are in luck! Tea is jam packed with major health benefits (and it’s pretty tasty too). Here are just a few reasons why the best part of waking up might just be a toasty cup of tea.

Benefits of tea:

Black tea is full of antioxidants (aka flavonoids). It helps the body to protect itself from damage caused by free radicals. It has also been know to lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and stroke as well as lowering blood pressure and improving overall cardiovascular health. Black tea also contains caffeine which is accompanied by a plethora of health benefits including liver detoxification, increasing dopamine levels in the brain, and improving memory to name a few.

Green tea has been touted by health gurus the world over. Many people enjoy green tea for it’s thermogenic effects. It is known to boost energy, increase metabolism, and aid in weight loss, but that’s not all green tea is good for. EGCG is a powerful catechin found in green tea. This potent antioxidant is packed with health benefits and is said to aid in the fight against cancer, chronic fatigue, endometriosis, osteoporosis, and high cholesterol. Green tea also acts as a wonderful stress reliever.

Looking for a tea to unwind with? Look no further than rooibos. This delicious red tea is caffeine free, yet rich in iron, potassium, copper, calcium, manganese, zinc, and magnesium. It’s full of antioxidants and is said to slow the aging process, relieve headaches, insomnia, indigestion, and irritability. This tea is also beneficial to those suffering from hay fever, eczema, and asthma.

If any of these sound like your cup of tea drink up and let your body enjoy the bountiful benefits!

Amazing MUFAs 1

meet the mufas

You are probably asking yourself… “What the heck is a MUFA?” We’ll break them down for you and explain why it can be extremely beneficial to your health to incorporate a MUFA into each and every meal.

MUFA stands for monounsaturated fatty acid meaning healthy, plant based fats (the “good” kinds of fats) that are found in some of your favorite foods including nuts and seeds, oils, olives, avocado  and last but certainly not least… dark chocolate!

Not only are MUFAs super tasty, they are also packed with major health benefits. MUFAs enhance satiety, meaning they will fill you up fast and keep you feeling fuller, longer. They also boost heart health, protect against diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and hypertension, keep your skin looking vibrant, and target stubborn belly fat!

It’s easy to incorporate MUFAs into your meals. Use healthy oils for cooking, add avocado to your sandwich or salad, snack on nuts and seeds in between meals, and treat yourself with a little bit of dark chocolate.

FEATURED PRODUCT OF THE WEEK: SKINMEDICA’S REJUVENATIVE TONER 0

skin medica rejuvenative tonerIs your skin stressed, dull looking, and just a little tired? Over time dirt, oil, and impurities can build up on our skin making it look and feel a little less than perfect. Enter… SkinMedica’s Rejuvenative Toner. This amazing product helps to remove said dirt, oil, and impurities along with dead skin cells that build up along the skin’s surface.

What makes this toner so amazing? It contains key ingredients that pack a powerful punch including alpha-hydroxy-acid (AHA) which improves skin tone and texture while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Willow bark extract provides mild exfoliation while green tea leaf extract fights free radicals. Witch hazel acts as an antioxidant and helps to reduce the appearance of pores.

Apply SkinMedica’s Rejuvenative Toner to the face twice a day after cleansing and before moisturizing and applying additional products. For more information on this product please check out SkinMedica’s official site.

What’s The Deal With BPA? 0

BPA Free Mason Jar

BPA… chances are you have heard of it, but do you know what it is? BPA stands for Bisphenol A which is a chemical used to make certain plastics and resins (polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins in particular). Plastic containers such as water bottles are often made of polycarbonate plastics. Epoxy resins are often used to coat the inside of metal containers such as cans. BPA has also been found in the breast-milk of mothers exposed to BPA.

So why is BPA such a big deal? There is no doubt you have heard of BPA free containers and probably own a few. BPA has been show to seep into food and beverages when they are stored in containers containing BPA. Why is this something you want to avoid? Though the jury is still out, BPA may cause negative health effects on the brain and behavior of fetuses, infants, and young children.

What should you do if you want to steer clear of BPA? One of the easiest steps is to purchase BPA-free products such as BPA-free water bottles and plastic containers or use alternatives to plastic such as glass. Another step is to cut down on your canned food consumption as the inside of cans are so often lined with materials containing BPA. Lastly, avoid heating polycarbonate plastic containers by avoiding the microwave and dishwasher. Heat may break down the plastic over time causing it to leach into food and beverages.

Overall, though we may not know the extent of damage due to BPA, it is certainly better to play it safe.

Oh Say Can You C 0

vitamin c

Did you know that Vitamin C packs a powerful antioxidant punch for your skin? When applied topically in the form of L-ascorbic acid (the only form of Vitamin C that your skin can fully absorb) Vitamin C serum is accompanied by a bevy of beauty benefits.

Vitamin C serum can help to fight off those nasty free radicals that contribute to premature aging. It helps to tighten & brighten skin tone, lighten hyper-pigmentation and discoloration, and inhibit melanin production. This serum also restores moisture balance to the skin and boosts collagen synthesis which firms the skin and assists in the prevention of fine lines and wrinkles. Protection against both UVA and UVB rays are another benefit of this remarkable vitamin.

There are a number of topical Vitamin C products on the market. We love Obagi Professional-C Serum as it is proven to have superior absorption into the epidermis and dermis. Whichever product you end up choosing, make sure that the main ingredient is L-ascorbic acid so that your skin can actually absorb the product and soak up all of those beautiful benefits.

The Not So Sweet Side of Sugar 0

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 MmmmmmSUGAR! It seems to make life so sweet… or does it? We all know that though sugar may taste delicious, it can have a negative impact on our health. Sugar can increase cholesterol, contribute to diabetes, weaken eyesight, cause cardiovascular disease, contribute to osteoporosis, interfere with protein absorption, and fuel the growth of cancer, but did you know that it can also wreak havoc on your skin? When simple sugar molecules such as glucose, or fructose attach to fats and proteins rogue molecules begin to form. This process is known as glycation. Glycation causes the onset of wrinkles, can make your skin brittle and inflamed, and destroys both collagen and elastin.

How can you have your cake and eat it too? There is no need to cut out sugar completely. Sugar naturally occurs in many healthy foods such as fruit. There are also healthy and natural substitutes such as stevia. Honey and agave are other great substitutes as they have a lower glycemic index than sugar. Just remember to steer clear of those nasty chemical substitutes. They don’t come without a price and are accompanied by a whole new slew of health problems.

Another way to fight the glycation process is by upping your intake of antioxidants. Filling up on green tea, berries, and spinach are good ways to keep the nasty side effects of sugar at bay and help protect your skin.

Just remember… 

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Oh Honey… How to Beat Those Allergy Blues 0

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People can be allergic to a number of things including food, medications, certain types of metals, animal dander and so forth, however, it is estimated that 36 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from seasonal allergies… are you one of them?

Allergies are actually nothing more than a misdirected immune response. When an allergen (in this case pollen) enters your body, your immune system is triggered and may go into overdrive. Histamine and other chemicals are then released into the body. This is what causes symptoms such as an itchy nose, watery eyes, sneezing, headaches, and congestion among many others.

So what can be done to win the battle against pesky pollen? Of course there are both over the counter and prescription medications that have proven very effective, though many may opt for a different route. If you are looking for a natural allergy remedy, look no further than your local health food store or farmers market.

Local honey is becoming an extremely popular alternative treatment for allergy sufferers everywhere. The school of though behind this is that the honey itself introduces small doses of these allergens in a weakened form (much like a vaccine). Honey contains pollen spores from a variety of plants in the area where the honey is cultivated. These small doses allow your body to get accostumed to these spores without triggering an immune response. This is called immunotherapy.  When eaten regularly, you may be able to gradually “vaccinate” yourself against these allergy offenders.

The key is that the honey must be local (think within the same county that you reside). This way your body will be introduced to the appropriate pollen spores. If you live in San Diego and are using a honey from the central coast, it will not have the same therapeutic effect.

Next time you or a loved one is suffering from allergies reach for the local honey. You (and your immune system) may be in for a sweet surprise.

Cheers to Glowing Skin… 0

wine not

We have all heard about the benefits of drinking wine… a lowered risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimers,colon cancer and much much more… but a glass a day for glowing skin? I’ll drink to that. Wine, particularly red, is chock-full of antioxidants in the form of polyphenols which help to soak up and flush out damaging free radicals. Flavonoids actually help protect the skin from sun damage while resveratrol provides numerous anti-aging benefits. Research at Harvard has proven resveratrol’s role in increasing production of SIRT1 which in turn speeds up cells’ energy production. This improves circulation and aids in skin repair and regeneration. Wine has also been proven to reduce stress, which is linked to a number of skin conditions included acne, rosacea, and psoriasis.

Not a fan of wine? Not to worry. There are a number of antioxidant rich foods including dark chocolate, pomegranate, blueberries, and cherries. It seems that grape juice would be a healthy alternative, however, it is stripped of the skin and seeds (these are the parts of the grape that contain these wonderful, anti-aging properties). It’s also full of sugar! 8 oz of wine contains 1 gram of sugar while 8 oz of grape juice contains 38 grams. Sugar can be very detrimental to your skin for a number of reasons (stay tuned for our upcoming post on sugar… the good, the bad, and the ugly).

Remember, there is such thing as too much of a good thing. The American Heart Association recommends one to two four ounce glasses of wine a day. More than this may have the opposite effect on your health and appearance.