I was in the shower thinking about what I wanted to write about today, and it hit me! I have been spending more time lately preparing meals and actually cooking, as opposed to heating things up. There are things that I use on a regular basis, and I think to round out a healthy and tasty diet, it is important to have these items on hand at all times!
1. Coconut oil. The gold standard of cooking oils. Yes, it’s loaded with saturated fat, and common wisdom says this is fattening and will lead to dreaded high cholesterol. This is where common wisdom is wrong! Coconut oil has been shown to help with fat burning with a rare type of fat called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT’s). MCT’s are more suited for energy use rather than fat storage. One study on coconut oil, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, demonstrated that the medium-chain fatty acids that comprise coconut oil were threefold more effective than polyunsaturated oils at raising metabolism. Make sure to get high quality, virgin coconut oil- taste and nutritional value will be higher!
2. Flax Seed Meal. This low carb, omega 3 fatty acid-rich seed can be used in many different meal combinations such as with smoothies, yogurt, or as part of many healthy recipes (like flax cakes). The omega 3’s in flax are not easily converted in your body from ALA to EPA and DHA (which is where fish oils are better), it still helps with your omega 3: omega 6 balance that is so important. Also, flax contains phytochemicals, including many anti-oxidants, and is loaded with B vitamins, magnesium, manganese, and fiber.
3. Cocoa Powder (unsweetened). Cocoa is loaded with antioxidants, and luckily for us chocolate-lovers has many other benefits! The reason for cocoa powder’s healthy kick is because it contains flavonoids. Flavonoids are a form of antioxidant and can also be found in vegetables, plants and red wine. Antioxidants help defend a body against free radicals, and therefore help prevent disease. Cocoa has also been shown to improve mood and help with blood circulation. A great way to get all these health benefits and satisfy your chocolate cravings is to mix a couple of teaspoons of cocoa powder with a little stevia powder in a cup of hot water. For an even better treat, try adding a little full fat coconut milk. Yum!
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