Burn baby burn hot chocolate cherry smoothie
- 1/4 avocado
- 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder
- 1 cup of frozen cherries or mixed berries
- a tiny bit of dried chilli to taste or a pinch of chilli flakes
- 1 drop of orange essential oil
- 300ml of hibiscus tea allowed to go cold
Blend it all together and enjoy the kick and warmth during the cooler parts of Spring. You can reduce the amount of nut milk and then have it as a mousse type breakfast.
Using herbal tea as a base for smoothies can be a nice subtle way of increasing the benefits of the smoothie without taking over the whole taste. Hibiscus tea has been shown in research to be helpful in mild and prehypertension in reducing blood pressure.
Hibiscus tea benefits also include being rich in anthocyanin which are shown to inhibit low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation, therefore it can help decrease the atherosclerotic process.
Cocoa as we call it in the UK, is one of the most popular confectionery products eaten with 1 in 6 Britons eating chocolate every day according to Mintel Consumer Research. (Mintel 2017), with this trend increasing in recent years. Although the type of chocolate eaten is still 73% milk chocolate sadly filled with sugar and not so good for you. Interestingly the Mayans referred to it as ‘heart blood’. (David Wolfe, Shazzie 2005) Swapping your chocolate bars for cocoa powder rich in the plant sterols sitosterol and stigmasterol will be a far better choice because these plant sterols are shown to compete with cholesterol, and flavonoids, in particular proanthocyanidins which help to protect the arteries from damage.
Cocoa is a good source of magnesium, which helps to lower oxidised cholesterol levels.
Avocado is rich in unsaturated fatty acids, monosaturates being 20% of the content of the avocado, and includes oleic and linoleic acid, potassium, vitamin E, and those much-needed B vitamins. Whilst people are eating banana’s for potassium, they would be better placed to add avocado into their smoothie because they can contain three times as much potassium. (Murray, Pizzorno. 2006) Potassium is shown to help reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension and is associated with a 24% reduced risk of stroke. (Nancy Aburto, et al 2013). Increased adrenal stress can place increased demand for potassium, as can caffeine often a staple in our morning routines.
Cherries, of course, have that beautiful colour which brings flavonoids, the darker the colour the higher the level, and have a natural source of melatonin, vitamin A, C, copper, and manganese. Melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant as well as a hormone that influences sleep of which the duration is seen as a risk for hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
Chillies are packed with vitamin C, and eating three or more portions of fruits and vegetables is shown to achieve a 17% reduction in cardiovascular disease risk.(Melissa A. Moser et al 2016) Chilli peppers contain a compound called capsaicin which stimulates and dilates the circulation, increasing blood flow. Interestingly it’s the pith that brings the heat, the oil from it flows onto the seeds which makes them hot.