Raw Cacao: You Can Finally Be Proud of Yourself for Eating Chocolate

Roasted Cacao BeansHi everybody! I hope the new year has been treating you well. Like a lot of people, I’m sure you came up with a few resolutions to better yourself, and I’m guessing there’s a good chance that one of those resolutions is to eat healthier, as it should be. Well, if you did indeed make such a resolution, then I’m sure that included pretty much cutting out sweets such as chocolate, which I know can’t be easy for all of you chocolate lovers.

Well, never fear because I’m here today to tell you some great news. Raw chocolate, known as raw cacao, is a superfood! Yes, you read right, a superfood. That means that consuming it is super good for you and your overall health and well being. Raw Cacao is chocolate in its raw, original form before all the processing and sweetening has been done to it.

You can easily find it in powder form or nib form, both of which we offer at The Urban Juicer as organic superfood add-ins to our smoothies. Add either one to your smoothie to turn it into a delicious, guilt free chocolate treat. For example, have you tried the chocolate version of the Liquid Lunch, our PB and banana smoothie? It’s to die for!

Now let’s talk about why raw cacao is so good for you. Raw cacao is the highest natural source of multiple necessary, very important nutrients. It’s truly amazing how much Raw Cacao is a one stop powerhouse of nutrients. It is the top natural source of antioxidants, magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese, serotonin, tryptophan, copper, vitamin C, and many many other great things, in case those I listed aren’t enough for you.

I was actually shocked to learn that raw cacao powder has a higher concentration of antioxidants than any other food in the world. According to superfood expert David Wolfe, raw cacao even has a higher concentration of antioxidants than red wine, blueberries, acai, pomegranates, and goji berries combined! Wow, that’s amazing! Raw cacao covered goji berries anyone?

Magnesium is a great alkaline mineral that supports the cardiovascular system and brain. It also relaxes muscles, including menstrual cramping. Ladies of the world feel free to rejoice now that you know that eating raw cacao (not your typical chocolate bar) when mother nature is getting you down is actually really good for you and will make you feel better. Magnesium also increases flexibility, helps build strong bones, and, being an alkaline mineral, increases your body’s alkalinity.

Raw cacao contains 314 percent of the recommended daily dose of iron, a critical mineral to our nutrition. It keeps our blood healthy and fights against anemia. Iron is essential to both sexes, but getting extra iron in our diet is especially important to us women, again thanks to that “gift” mother nature brings us each month. During menstruation, we lose a lot of our body’s iron, so during that time especially we need to get extra iron in our diet. What better (and more fun) way than by eating some raw chocolate?

Tryptophan is found in significant quantities in raw cacao. Tryptophan is a powerful mood enhancing nutrient that is critical for the production of the also mood enhancing serotonin, which is abundant in raw cacao as well.  When tryptophan is cooked it is damaged or destroyed, explaining why most people are deficient. Serotonin is our primary neurotransmitter. It diminishes anxiety and improves our ability to handle both physical and mental stress. A lot less people would be depressed if serotonin levels were higher in the average person.  So in other words, a lot less people would be depressed if they ate some raw cacao. A much cheaper and yummier solution to depression than some dangerous pill huh?

So yeah, raw cacao is awesome, and I didn’t even break the surface on its vast number of health benefits. I don’t know about you, but I think this is some of the best news I’ve gotten in a long time. Not only is chocolate not bad for you, but it’s amazingly good for you! Let me reiterate though, that that rule only applies to raw cacao/raw chocolate (same thing). That does not mean it’s good for you to run down to the closest gas station and buy a typical chocolate bar. That is still bad, sorry. Just wait until you try a raw cacao bar though. You’ll never even want a gas station chocolate bar ever again. Trust me. Now excuse me while I go celebrate with a delicious, guilt free organic raw cacao bar….

Chlorophyll: Not Just for Plants

leafEveryone knows that you should eat your green veggies, but do you know why? I mean we all know they’re good for us, like most vegetables, but what about green plants in particular is good for us? The answer, as you may remember from your science classes, is Chlorophyll. Just in case you can’t remember exactly what Chlorophyll is, I’ll remind you. Chlorophyll is the green pigment found in many vegetables that absorbs the sun’s rays in order to provide energy for photosynthesis to take place.

The next question you’re probably asking yourself is, “but why do I need Chlorophyll? I’m not a plant.” Well as anyone could probably guess, the benefits of Chlorophyll to the human body are limitless. The most amazing aspect of Chlorophyll has to be the fact that its molecular structure is almost identical to the hemoglobin found in our blood. The only difference is that Chlorophyll has magnesium as its center atom while hemoglobin has iron as its center atom.

Hemoglobin is very important to our blood. It helps to keep our red blood cells healthy and happy. What this all means is that Chlorophyll actually helps to do the job of hemoglobin when we ingest it, and trust me, with the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) we need all the help we can get. If your blood is healthier, you’re going to feel more energetic and just better overall.

After all, your blood goes to every part of your body so if it’s healthier, every part of your body is healthier. With healthier blood, your wounds will heal faster, you will fight infection better, your circulation will improve, and the list just goes on. Chlorophyll even increases the number of red blood cells you have which increases the efficient use of oxygen in your body.

Another awesome thing about Chlorophyll is its chelation abilities. If something has chelation abilities, that means that it has the ability to bind to toxic heavy metals in the blood stream and remove them. This detoxifying ability is very important to everybody but especially so to those unlucky enough to have toxic mercury fillings in their teeth which leak toxic mercury into their system every day. Any help those individuals can get until they can get them removed, the better.

As I’ve mentioned before, most people (especially Americans) are overly acidic because of their diets. Chlorophyll is alkalizing, which means it fights acidity, and we need as much help as we can get to help combat our acidity.

Chlorophyll is also a great deodorizer, killing bacteria that causes bad breath in the mouth and throat, as well as promoting a healthier digestive tract, where bad breath originates. So the next time your breath is in need of some freshening, instead of reaching for a toxic aspartame laden stick of gum or a mint, try getting yourself a green drink. Your breath will be better, you won’t be poisoning yourself, and you’ll be increasing your overall health. All huge positives.

The best news is that it’s very easy to include Chlorophyll in your diet. Of course you can always eat your greens, but I know some of you will simply say, “but I don’t like green veggies.” Well, don’t worry. I have the perfect solution for you. Drink your greens! It tastes great, and it’s so much easier than eating them. Even people who don’t like to eat greens will be able to find a green containing drink they’ll love.

At The Urban Juicer we have a bunch of drinks with greens to choose from. They’re all really well balanced between fruit and vegetable flavor. Don’t be afraid. Give it a try. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed, and I can bet it’ll be your new favorite way to get your greens in. I know it’s definitely mine!

Bee Pollen: We’ve Struck Gold

Bee-PollenSome of you may have heard the “buzz” going around about bee pollen (pun intended) and thought, “did you say bee pollen?” Yes, you heard right. Bee pollen, as in the pollen nectar from flowers, that yellow dusty stuff you see on flowers in the spring, after it has been harvested by honey bees. I know the idea of eating such a thing may sound weird at first, especially if you have pollen allergies, but trust me when I say you’re going to want to include bee pollen in your daily regimen.

I think bee pollen is truly one of the most amazing foods known to mankind. I would even call it the most complete food found in nature. The use of bee pollen in various societies dates back thousands of years. Even Hippocrates was a big fan, understandably so. I could write endlessly about its benefits, but for your sake I’m going to pick just a few of those benefits out, which is no easy feat considering there are so many.

Bee pollen is so amazing and complete that some say it is possible for a person to live on bee pollen alone and be healthy. I recently read about a scientific study where mice were fed only bee pollen and water and compared to a control group of mice fed a normal diet. The control mice only survived an average of 477 days and all had kidney issues typical of their breed. The other mice were fed only bee pollen and water were still healthy with no kidney issues after 600 days, at which point they were killed for scientific testing. I’m really curious to know how much longer they would’ve lived healthfully!

So, in short, bee pollen has been shown to greatly improve healthy lifespan. Bee pollen is also good for the brain, thanks to its high amino acid content. The amino acids, along with its high level of B vitamins gives you a great amount of natural energy (with none of the crash like caffeine) and helps with both physical and mental fatigue. I can personally vouch for this. Nothing compares to the wonderful energy bee pollen gives me. It makes me feel like I’ve actually gotten a full night’s sleep! Bee pollen also increases memory and concentration.

The nutritional profile of bee pollen is truly amazing. It has more protein per serving than meat, eggs, and cheese and contains all the essential amino acids (plus more!). Bee pollen is extremely rich in vitamins (especially B vitamins), minerals, and enzymes. Bee pollen is truly a goldmine of nutrients.

As I mentioned before, bee pollen is also great for treating seasonal allergies, as counter-intuitive as that may seem. When you incorporate bee pollen into your daily diet, your immune system builds up immunities to pollen in the air. It is best to start introducing bee pollen into your system a couple to a few months before allergy season begins so your system will already be prepared for the onslaught of pollen it’s about to endure.

If your system has already built up immunities to pollen, it will not be affected (or will be much less affected) by seasonal pollens. If you are taking it for seasonal allergies, it is very important to buy local bee pollen so your system will be immunized against local pollens. It only makes sense. Bee pollen truly is amazing to say the least.

Now let’s address a couple of important points. Those of you who are allergic to bee stings may be worried about having an allergic reaction to bee pollen. Although I can’t promise you that you won’t, evidence seems to suggest that you won’t. If you think about it, it really doesn’t make sense that you would have an allergic reaction considering that bee pollen is just pollen harvested by bees. It doesn’t contain any bee venom.

If you want to give bee pollen a try and are allergic to bee stings it is recommended to start with a very small amount and see what happens. Just make sure you are somewhere that you can get help if you do end up needing it.

Now let’s talk dosage. For an adult it is recommended to take one to two tablespoons per day for optimal results. Because some people are more sensitive to bee pollen than others, however, it is recommended to start with a small amount and work your way up to full dosage. Start with a fourth of a tablespoon for a few days, then go to a half a tablespoon and so on. So don’t hesitate any longer. Start incorporating bee pollen into your diet asap. At the Urban Juicer we sell local bee pollen sourced from The Ed Johnson Honey Farm in Goodlettsville TN. We can always add a serving to your juice or smoothie, the perfect way to get your start in the world of bee pollen!

Ginger: The Wonder Root

Screen Shot 2012-12-14 at 11.27.04 PMWhen you hear ginger, what do you think? It being Christmas season and all, images of gingerbread men and gingerbread houses just might come to mind, but there’s a lot more to ginger than just being a yummy spice to add to your Christmas treats. The ginger root is truly a miracle root that deserves a lot more appreciation than it gets.

Ginger is a very powerful anti-inflammatory. Chronic inflammation in your body only leads to diseases, including cancer. By removing inflammation in your body, ginger prevents the growth and spread of cancer cells that would result in cancerous tumors, but that’s not all. Not only does ginger prevent cancer from forming, it has also been shown to induce apoptosis in cancer cells, which means it causes cancer cells to kill themselves. Can you get any better than that?! Ginger both fights cancer and prevents it! Wow, that alone makes me a HUGE fan of ginger. But wait…there’s more!

Ginger’s anti-inflammatory abilities also make it a powerful natural pain reliever for both chronic pain conditions, such as arthritis, and occasional aches and pains, such as headaches and colds, while also boosting your immunity. Why would you take some synthetic pain reliever with nasty side effects when you could just get some freshly juiced ginger at the juice bar and not only feel better, but promote your health in many other ways as well? It seems like a pretty obvious choice to me.

Ginger is even good for your heart and circulation. Its anti-inflammatory components keep your arteries from swelling, resulting in clear blood flow. Ginger even has aspects that prevent platelets from building up in your arteries and stimulates the release of adrenaline, which not only strengthens your heart, but gives you energy. The amazing clean feeling energy ginger gives me is why I started taking ginger shots to begin with, before I knew about its multitude of other benefits. There’s no need for caffeine when you have a superfood like ginger to give you energy, and it’s an energy that doesn’t include a crash like caffeine does. You see why ginger has become my new best friend.

Now for ginger’s most famous claim to fame as a health food: ginger is the king of digestion. Ginger contains special enzymes that improve digestion by easing the entire process. By doing this, ginger also helps you to better absorb the nutrients of the foods you’re eating. With ginger, your digestive system can function like never before!

Ginger is so soothing to the digestive system, that it is also great for any type of nausea from motion sickness to morning sickness to nausea caused by chemotherapy treatments. Even better, only a small amount is needed to get rid of nausea symptoms. With ginger a little goes a long way, but in this case there is no such thing as too much of a good thing. The more the better, I say.

Ginger is packed with very powerful free radical scavenging antioxidants that do amazing things for you. They do everything from preventing the growth of cancer cells, as I mentioned before, to preventing and even cleaning up plagues that build up in the brain causing horrible brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s.

And finally, if I haven’t listed enough reasons why you should be running (not walking) to the juice bar for some freshly juiced ginger, here’s one more for you: ginger has been shown to be an effective treatment for asthma. Ginger includes compounds that can help soothe asthma symptoms. Is there anything this root can’t do?

The best part is, it’s so easy to include ginger in your diet. I find fresh ginger to be the most potent, so I like to include it in my juices at the juice bar, as well as indulge in a straight ginger shot when I really need some quick energy or am feeling some digestive distress, although just including it in your drink should also do the trick. I have noticed an increase lately in people asking for ginger shots, and I applaud you for that. Sure, straight ginger is not exactly pleasing to the palette, but I think that a minute of a strong taste in my mouth is definitely worth how it makes me feel and the benefits it gives me.

Like I said earlier though, you can also get ginger’s health benefits simply by adding it to your juice. I love the zip it gives any juice you add it to. I’m sure right now some of you are saying “but I don’t like ginger”. Well maybe you should just give it another chance. When I first started working at the juice bar I thought I also wasn’t a big fan of ginger, but the more I drank it, the more I liked the taste of it. I was also so impressed by how great it made me feel that I think I would’ve continued to drink it no matter how it tasted. Luckily though, the taste really grew on me, and I am now a huge ginger fan.

Ginger is even already included in some of our juice blends such as the Well Being , the Mood Lifter, and the Cold Buster. So come and take a spin in the wild world of ginger. I promise you won’t regret it!

What on Earth is Kombucha?

CumberlandTUJWhat is Kombucha? (you say it like kom-boo-cha) This is a question I have been getting a lot lately. To put it very simply, Kombucha tea is just tea (typically black or green), sugar, water, and a starter culture known as either a mushroom because of its mushroom-like shape, or as a SCOBY, which stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, fermented together. Now I know all that doesn’t sound very appetizing, but don’t be scared off just yet. Kombucha has a multitude of health benefits and tastes yummy too! What more could you want? Unlike other fermented beverages, Kombucha has only trace amounts of alcohol (around 1%) and almost no sugar because the sugar is what the yeast feeds on during the fermentation process.

The list of health benefits from Kombucha seems limitless so I’ll just mention a few here for you. As with other fermented foods, Kombucha is a great source of probiotics. Probiotics do wonderful things for the digestive system, and as everyone should know, the health of your digestive system is key to your overall health, so any step you can take to improve its health, the better. Also, if your digestive system is functioning better, you have a better chance at losing excess weight as well.

Kombucha also helps to alkalize the body and balance your inner PH level. Most people’s bodies are far too acidic due to the high amount of acidic things we consume on a daily basis. It is literally a miracle and a testament to the power of the human body that drinking one soda alone (which is insanely acidic) doesn’t make you drop dead. You’ll understand this once you learn how important the PH level is in our bodies, which I’ll write about in a future post. In fact, many diseases can only take hold in an acidic environment, including cancer. Since Kombucha is alkalizing, it helps to bring your PH level down to a healthier, less acidic level.

Thanks to some of the great organic acids found in Kombucha, such as glucaric acid, Kombucha is a wonderful aid in the detoxification of our bodies. It helps the liver expel toxins that would otherwise continue to be cycled through your body multiple times before they would be secreted. Of course detoxifying the body also helps to prevent or reverse pretty much all illnesses, including cancer. Kombucha also contains high amounts of glucosamines which help your body maintain healthy joints.

Many people have reported going from barely being able to walk to walking for miles with no pain after consuming Kombucha for an extended period of time. You see glucosamines enhance the production of hyaluronic acid, which is an acid that helps to preserve cartilage in the body. Healthy cartilage equals healthy joints, but keep in mind that in order to receive such results you must make it a part of your daily regime for a decent amount of time. Don’t expect any overnight miracles now!

Of course one of my favorite reasons to drink Kombucha is the increased energy it gives me. This is mostly due to the B vitamins found in Kombucha, and although most of the sugar is consumed by the yeast during the fermentation process, what little remains is broken down to its most basic level, fructose. Since it is already broken down to its simplest form, your body can immediately use it for energy. This basic form of sugar found in Kombucha also helps to kick start your metabolism. If you’re really looking for an energy boost you should definitely try the local Kombucha we sell with added ginger. Those two together are a powerhouse of natural energy. When I drink one I feel like I’m wide awake, full of energy, and ready to face the world!

Kombucha is also a great replacement for soda for those of us (like me) who like carbonated beverages, and Kombucha is naturally carbonated at that! If you replace your soda intake with Kombucha not only will you drastically reduce your sugar intake, but you will also be doing something great for your health. Win-win right?

Well, I could go on and on all day talking about how wonderful Kombucha is, but haven’t I said enough already? There is no excuse to not drink Kombucha. If price is your excuse (because let’s face it, it’s not super cheap) then look into home brewing. It’s surprisingly simple and inexpensive to make yourself. It doesn’t even cost you a fraction as much as store bought does. So if you’re thinking of making Kombucha a part of your regular diet, then I’d recommend making your own, which you can learn to do with a simple internet search. Now I will leave you with a couple of final tips: don’t think something’s wrong with your Kombucha if you see “stuff” floating in it or resting on the bottom. Those are the natural healthy cultures that are supposed to be there and are chocked full of goodness. Finally, don’t shake Kombucha! It’s carbonated, remember? Instead just give it a nice and gentle rock back and forth, slowly. And now that you are well versed on Kombucha, go on, give it a try!