Have we finally found the fountain of youth?
If chocolate really is the fountain of youth and can make you look younger – I think we have found heaven! Even though chocolate is considered decadent, you might be surprised to learn that it does have quite a few health benefits that can keep you looking as young as possible for as long as possible.
This isn’t an invitation to indulge in a chocolate fest, because too much of anything isn’t going to be good for you – and too much chocolate will make your jeans shrink! For maximum health benefits however, you need to indulge in high quality dark chocolate, as milk chocolate is really high in sugar and doesn’t contain as many nutrients as dark chocolate.
Let’s take a look at why you might consider dark chocolate the fountain of youth.
Dark chocolate contains antioxidants
Much of the damage to your skin from free radicals comes from environmental pollutants and over-exposure to UV rays (sunlight). All of that sunbathing when you were younger eventually comes home to roost with dry, sun damaged skin, uneven skin tones, hyper-pigmentation and sun spots.
One of the reasons why you should chose dark chocolate over milk chocolate or even white chocolate is that dark chocolate contains hardly any milk solids (compared to milk or white chocolate), instead it contains cocoa solids which are high in antioxidants.
The higher the percentage of cocoa solids, the more antioxidants contained in the chocolate, and the less sugar it contains. Some people don’t like the really dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids, because it can take bitter not sweet (due to the lower amount of sugar), but if you try hard enough, you will find a dark chocolate that you like!
High blood pressure, stroke and stress
There are lots of studies that demonstrate that chocolate can be really good for your health. A study in 2006 found that flavanols, which are powerful antioxidants contained in dark chocolate, are directly responsible for improved cardiovascular health. In fact, diets rich in flavanols (present in tea, grape wine and cocoa) is well known as being good for our cardiovascular health. Flavanols have been shown to reduce the risk of blood pressure, glucose intolerance, and our immune response.
In 2016, a study found that dark chocolate can prevent the onset of diabetes, while an earlier study in 2009 found that when highly stressed people ate dark chocolate every day for two weeks, their stress levels reduced significantly. So if you eat a moderate amount of dark chocolate regularly, it seems that your heart will be happier and healthier and you might even not catch as many colds!
Dark chocolate reduces cholesterol
A study in 2009 found that consuming dark chocolate, one of the richest sources of flavanols, actually reduces LDL (the bad lipids) and increases the HDL (the good lipids). Multiple studies have also shown the same results – that dark chocolate eaten regularly can reduce the amount of bad cholesterol in your body.
Dr Will Clower, author of ‘Eat Chocolate Lose Weight‘ says that you can use chocolate to cut down your cravings and reduce your nagging hunger, so that you naturally eat less food. He suggests that dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa is the type of chocolate that is good for you!
Dark chocolate is good for your brain
The cocoa in dark chocolate has been shown to improve cognitive function which means that you pay attention and memorise things more easily when you eat chocolate! Another study found that eating chocolate can even reverse some of the effects of aging on our cognitive functions. Who knew that eating chocolate helped you to remember your shopping list and phone numbers? Even better – chocolate helps you to keep thinking straight as you become older!
Take home message
Eating chocolate isn’t as bad as we first thought and experts have known about the benefits of chocolate to our health for quite some time. Eating chocolate night and day or missing meals so that you can eat chocolate is not a good idea. However, as part of a sensible, balanced diet, the experts seem to say that a little bit of chocolate every day can seriously improve your health and keep your skin looking healthier and younger.
So is chocolate the fountain of youth?
Who knows? I hope so! But eating chocolate is a fabulous way to make your skin look younger, reduce your cholesterol and stress levels, and reduce your likelihood of heart problems.
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