Fight the effects that aging has already had on your brain & body

Two Double Decadent Desserts that Benefit your Brain & Body?


Ah, chocolate. For many of us, a mere glance at the picture on your left, or the faint whiff of this infamous "guilty pleasure" seems to conjure feelings of heady indulgence, pleasure, decadence. And most still assume that the word chocolate equals "getting fat", "bad for you", "only have it once in a while", "no way, I'm on a diet!" and so on. With all of the misinformation, myths and confusion out there, it's not surprising that most people still don't know the truth about this ancient substance originally known and revered as the "Food of the Gods". 

But we're going to make it simple for you, set the record straight, and show you why deliciously hedonistic flavanoid-rich real chocolate is worthy of such a title, and why you should strongly consider adding it to your diet, every day. But before you run out and reach for the supermarket candy bars, hold your horses and get choco-educated...

Fact: chocolate is good for you, your brain, your body and your overall health. Hurray! Now I can rush out and gorge on chocolate candy bars, and open up a packet of hot chocolate mix and heat up that milk, right? No.

This is where many people get misled or confused: who said anything about candy bars? Who said anything candy? Chocolate does not equal candy. 

Simply put, real chocolate, which has been consumed by humans since the time of the Aztecs, is (in its purest form) the cacao plant bean. In its more modern incarnation the beans are fermented, roasted and ground into a paste or powder. In this rather virgin state, it is a food incredibly rich in powerful antioxidants, brain and mood-enhancing chemicals (more on that later, read on), amino acids, beneficial compounds and vitamins, and of course, that pure concentrated chocolate aroma. It's no wonder this food has been revered for so many centuries.

But it's what happens next to this pure form of chocolate from there that creates confusion, the myths and gets people into trouble...

When the wonders of the cacao bean were first making their way around the European gastronomic circles around the 17th century, this pure cocoa was found to be even more wonderful tasting when combined with sugar, flavorings such as vanilla, dairy milk, and emulsifiers allowing chocolate to be easy shaped and formed into everything from bars to truffles to the variety of chocolate-containing creations that we know today. 

As popularity and consumption of these chocolate-containing containing candies and delicacies became soared, so did the assumption that "chocolate equals candy, chocolate equals sweet", and because the most popular chocolate-related foods were (and continue to be) this way, along came the associations of getting fat, being decadent, "chocolate is bad for you" and so on. And rightly so, as refined sugars and animal-derived fats and artificial flavorings obviously aren't good for you (no surprise there).

But the chocolate in those foods has nothing to do with that. It's like saying that a concoction of blueberries mixed with pig fat and gasoline is bad for you. No kidding! But the blueberries alone would be wonderful.

Poor chocolate: it got lumped in with the fattening, artery-clogging, weight-gaining effects caused by milk fat, refined white sugar, butter, and other not-so-good-for-you ingredients that were and continue to be combined with chocolate. Although pure chocolate does have some fat, it's a vegetable fat and your body processes it differently than animal fats.

In short, chocolate's been running with a bad crowd. But fortunately, more and more incarnations of this ancient "Food of the Gods" are becoming available that minimize the bad, and maximize the good...

The reality is that the higher the percentage of pure cocoa content in a chocolate product, the more of the good stuff from chocolate you'll get, and the less of the bad stuff you'll get along with it. 

Make it work for you: you may have heard recently that health researchers recommend eating chocolate products (bars, cocoa mix, or other forms) containing at least 70% or higher cacao contents, so that you're getting a higher percentage of the chocolate (good) and lower percentage of things like sugar and milk fat and other fats, flavorings, etc. At BrainReady, we think that the percentage should be even higher: 80% or higher, and not only that, we suggest that the quality of the chocolate source (the beans and how they are roasted...slowly is better) should be as high-quality and gently, naturally produced as possible to maintain the highest levels of the natural polyphenols and antioxidants and other delicate health properties intrinsic in in the cacao bean. It's really similar to other 

Bottom line: less sugar, less milk, more high-quality high-percentage cocoa. And guess what? It tastes incredible this way! After adjusting to high-quality dark chocolate bars and cocoa powder with a cacao percentage of 80% or higher, many find it hard to go back to those cheap processed low-cocoa milk chocolate bars. We personally like the 85% Criollo Venezualan cocoa-based bars produced in Europe and South America best, and also the 100% unsweetened pure organic cocoa powders available in many grocery stores now. You can break off a few squares of these gourmet dark chocolate bars and eat them with your coffee or tea, as a mid-day pick-me-up snack, and after dinner. Talk about a labor of love! And with the 100% cocoa powder, it's great to mix with barely-sweetened organic soy milk, mixed in your coffee, sprinkled on your dark chocolate bars, it's frankly good on almost anything despite being somewhat bitter (as it's unsweetened). The wonderful cocoa flavor and aroma comes through loud and clear, and if you love chocolate, what could be better?

The specific health benefits, as reported via numerous recent controlled studies around the world (feel free to Google chocolate to learn more and read specific studies): 

- Amazing effects on the brain: theobromine, caffeine, tyramine, phenylethylamine and other chemicals promote an overall sense of well-being, relaxed sharpness, pain is diminished, fogginess and depression reduced, cognitive performance increased.

- Antioxidant Superpower: chocolate is one of the highest antioxidant foods known, period. Higher than blueberries! 

- Polyphenols and other compounds lower blood pressure, reduce plaque in arteries, have all-around cardiovascular benefits.

- May reduce 'bad' blood sugar levels

- Rich in numerous vitamins and minerals

....the list goes on. 

So, bring real chocolate back into your life and do your brain, body and overall well-being a favor...but do it right! 

Now, chocolate isn't the only thing on tonight's dessert menu: how about some buttery, nutty...

walnuts? Yes, walnuts. As if chocolate wasn't enough to complete your post-meal indulgence, add walnuts to complete your decadent dessert duo. Walnuts are another food long associated with thoughts of indulgence, decadence, getting fat. Ah, those rich traditions on Europe of walnuts after a dinner. And the popular myth: "Eat those fatty-tasting nuts and you'll get fat, clog those arteries, slow down that brain". Right?
Wrong. Incredibly, polar-opposite flat-out wrong. Fortunately, wrong has never tasted so right: if you like walnuts (and other nuts, but walnuts in particular when it comes to brain and cardiovascular health), get ready to bring them back into your life. Every day. Even twice a day. 

That's right, the latest scientific research has found some rather incredible new findings about what walnuts can do for your brain health AND body health. A few of the latest research findings about walnuts:

- One of the richest sources of Omega-3, 6, and ALA essential fatty acids, which help fight everything from stroke to cancer to bad cholesterol to improving mood.

- Recently found to help protect against Type-2 Diabetes, heart disease, cardiovascular diseases

- The 'good fats' in walnuts shown to not cause increase in weight gain, while serving as an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals.

- Fights against dangerous blood clotting which which can lead to brain conditions such as strokes.

- Better than olive oil: a popular recent study showed that eating walnuts after a fatty, unhealthy meal had a significant effect on reducing the effects of the bad fats eaten during that meal, even more significant than the former 'king of good fats', olive oil!

- Asian cultures have long considered walnuts a "brain food", with students eating walnuts before taking tests!

More research on the health benefits of walnuts are being done around the world as you read this, so we'll surely learn of even more benefits soon. 
But why wait? Finish off that meal with a nice handful of walnuts, or how about covering them with some 100% organic cocoa powder or eat them with a few squares of 85% high-quality dark chocolate? 

Sounds indulgent, sounds like a rich decadent dessert duo, right? Well it is: it's hedonistically delicious, while being incredibly beneficial to your brain, body and overall health. 

Bon apetit!

if you'd like us to recommend some of our favorite dark chocolate and cocoa sources...we've discovered quite a few, as admitted chocoholics. :)

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