Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Birthdays, Easter – any reason to celebrate usually – and what do they all have in common? Gifts of chocolate, and although welcome we may worry that it isn’t really healthy – but we would be wrong, particularly as we get older.
5 Healthy benefits from eating chocolate
I have to admit I would eat chocolate whether it was healthy or not – but good to know that actually it can be helpful. Of course it depends on the type of chocolate and that means one with a minimum 70-85% cocoa content. A single 100 gram bar of dark chocolate will give you fibre, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium – so that’s plenty of good-tasting minerals right there. Of course a box of organic chocolates could be even better, but likely to have more calories too! a
These are good reasons to not give up on chocolate, plus how bioidentical hormones can also help.
1 Eating chocolate can help you stay thin
No really, because a study by researchers at the University of California-San Diego found that people who frequently eat chocolate have lower body-mass indexes than people who don’t. Of course it will depend on how healthy the rest of your diet is!
2 Chocolate decreases stroke risk
This is a major health concern for women at menopause and a Swedish study found that eating more than 45 grams of chocolate a week led to a 20 percent decrease in stroke risk among women. Chocolate contains flavonoids (antioxidant compounds that protect against free radical damage), whose properties help fight strokes. Also, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University found that Epicatechin, a compound found in dark chocolate shields cells in your brain, and so protects it from damage caused by strokes.
3 Chocolate reduces the likelihood of a heart attack
At menopause this is a greater risk, and a bigger cause of death, for women than cancer so this is an important benefit. Blood platelets clump together more slowly in chocolate eaters which means that it may prevents blood clots, which in turn reduces the risk of heart attacks.
4 Chocolate helps your brain function better
It didn’t work for me, but British psychologists found that flavanols in chocolate helped people with their mental arithmetic. Study subjects had an easier time counting backwards from a randomly-generated number between 800 and 999 after drinking a cup of hot chocolate than they did without it. In another study researchers asked healthy elderly patients to drink a daily cocoa supplement that contained 138 milligrams of epicatechin flavanols. After three months, when tested, they performed as well on memory tests as a control group of participants 20 or 30 years younger.
So if the common ‘brain fog’ is hitting you at menopause then a cup of cocoa might just do the trick, but you will also find the same flavanols in apples, and green tea.
5 Chocolate can help reduce blood pressure
Scientists have discovered that the antioxidant flavonoids in chocolate can lower blood pressure, improve the elasticity of blood vessels, and may increase HDL (the good cholesterol). But remember it can also be high in fat and sugar, which can pile on the pounds and that is definitely not too good for blood pressure.
I have always worked on the old principle of ‘moderation and a little of what you fancy does you good’ so for chocolate lovers this is good news. However, women do put on weight at menopause due to hormone imbalance as fat is redistributed to around the middle and the effects of oestrogen dominance can be seen.
So too big an increase in your fat,sugar and caffeine intake from chocolate can bring other health problems. If you also are trying to lose weight these articles will be helpful: