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Chocolate and Other Fats to Help You Slim Down

Posted Oct 22 2008 4:23pm

Chocolate and Other Fats to Help You Slim Down
By Mark Hyman

Eat the Right Fats

One of the best ways to send the right messages to your genes, reduce inflammation, and burn fat is to eat the right fats: the omega-3 fats (EPA and DHA) found in fish oil 11. A new fat has been discovered that also controls our energy metabolism and inflammation through the PPAR receptors: OEA (oleoylethanolamide) 12 (commonly found in cocoa butter, dark chocolate and cocoa nibs; see below for more information on these).

Turning on PPAR receptors with fish oil, antioxidants, or chocolate shuts down NF-kB and thus reduces inflammation and oxidative stress. In addition to fish oil and cocoa butter, which is found in dark chocolate or cocoa nibs, antioxidants also turn on the PPAR receptors. Therefore antioxidants also help you become more insulin-sensitive, burn more fat, and reduce inflammation. Antioxidants in food and in supplements may be helpful in regulating your weight.

Eat Dark Chocolate

Further, foods that are high in phytonutrients have a wide range of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions.

UltraMetabolism by Mark Hyman

Mark Hyman discusses how to achieve greater health and vitality and lead an age-defying, disease-free life.
Some of these phytonutrients, called flavonols, are found in fruits and vegetables such as berries, grapes (hence the benefits of red wine), tea, and cocoa. Chocolate 13 (the dark kind) contains phytonutrients called polyphenols. * These are natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules that cool off inflammation and can help protect you against obesity. That's right, I said it. Chocolate can be a weight loss food!

Before you go out and stock up on Snickers, there are some caveats. First the chocolate must be free of added saturated fats and rich in cocoa. Cocoa is the plant that chocolate is made from,and it is where the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory polyphenols come from.
This combination of properties can be found only in special kinds of dark chocolate. So when you go out and stock up on chocolate, take the following factors into consideration: The chocolate should have only minimal amounts of added sugar, and it should have as much cocoa in it as possible. Many of the dark chocolates that are on the market today specify the content of cocoa on the label. You should aim for at least 70 percent cocoa content. In addition, keep in mind that even this special kind of dark chocolate should be eaten in moderation, about two to three ounces a day. Don't start eating 15 chocolate bars a day and think it will improve your health!

You can also try cocoa nibs -- roasted, unprocessed, whole cocoa beans. They are crunchy, delicious, and full of polyphenols and OEA, a special fat that helps you burn fat.

Eat Fruits and Vegetables

There are many other sources for phytonutrients than chocolate and cocoa. You can get many anti-inflammatory phytonutrients by eating plant foods that have a high phytonutrient index (remember, this is the measure of the overall amount of healing plant chemicals in plant foods). If you don't eat enough plant food, you will never get enough of these healing nutrients. Eating whole, unprocessed real foods that have a low GL and high PI is another important way to reduce inflammation in your body. If you don't eat high-quality food, you are going to become inflamed and fat.

For instance, studies have shown that the same amount of calories from fast-food meals creates more inflammation and oxidative stress than those from meals containing fruits and vegetables, which contain those important phytonutrients. So once again, it is not just the calories you eat but where they come from that is important in losing or maintaining weight, creating a healthy metabolism, and reducing inflammation.A diet high in phytonutrients is critical if you want to lose weight.The UltraMetabolism Prescription is just such a diet.

Move Your Body

Exercise is something our ancestors never did. When I traveled to rural China in 1984, no one was jogging. They were too tired from carrying buckets of water and sewage, from working in the fields all day and sawing boards from logs by hand. Sitting next to Paul Ridker, M.D., the pioneer from Harvard who has proven the link between inflammation and heart disease, at a conference on nutrition, genetics, and inflammation, I asked him why we were all inflamed in the twentieth century. He replied that we are all doing a lot less in terms of moving around and using our bodies (currently known as exercise) than our ancestors were adapted to doing. In fact, reducing inflammation is probably the main way that exercise helps to prevent heart disease. Before you panic, just remember that any moving around counts.

Subdue Stress

You know where it comes from and how to manage it. What you may not realize is how much stress can increase inflammation, nor how much relaxing and reducing stress can reduce inflammation. Study after study has shown that even in diseases such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, not to mention obesity, stress reduction has real, powerful anti-inflammatory benefits.

* Substances found in many plants that give some flowers, fruits and vegetables their color. Polyphenols have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. They are abundant in berries, green tea and cocoa.

Copyright © 2006 by Mark Hyman, M.D.
From the book ULTRAMETABOLISM by Mark Hyman. Published by Scribner, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc., N.Y. Reproduced by permission.
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