Women have always had a special relationship with chocolate. With just one bite, the world seems like a brighter place. In her acclaimed book Chocolat, author Joanne Harris perfectly describes the bond that is created with chocolate: “Happiness. Simple as a glass of chocolate or tortuous as the heart. Bitter. Sweet. Alive.”
But chocolate has also got a bit of a bad rap. Despite its soothing sweetness, it’s supposedly the cause of blemishes and thicker thighs. So you may be surprised to hear that experts have said that moderate amounts of it are good for you, especially if you’re a woman in your prime.
Looking for a good reason to indulge your sweet tooth, all in the name of health? Keep reading as we outline why chocolate is so much more than just an indulgence.
All types of chocolate are not created equal. The purer the chocolate – in other words, the less filling such as nuts, praline and biscuit that a slab has – the better it is for you. This is due to the filling adding on more calories.
The calorie content of each type of chocolate is different. According to Livestrong, every one-ounce square of chocolate contains the following calories:
There are also several other differences in terms of nutritional content. For example, white chocolate contains far more sugar than dark chocolate does. Excess amounts of sugar, particularly refined sugar, cause conditions such as obesity which, if left unchecked, can result in diabetes.
The main component of dark chocolate is cocoa. Most commercially available dark chocolate manufacturers make up their slabs with about 75% cocoa. Flavanol is a key component of cocoa, which is an antioxidant that may protect against free radicals. Women who switch from milk or white chocolate to cocoa-rich dark chocolate could reduce their health risk against age-related diseases such as cardiac disease and other such ailments.
Antioxidants are also famed for their anti-aging properties as free radicals cause untold damage to all cells of the body, including your skin. This is why eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate could help you in the fight against aging. Never mind the anti-wrinkle cream; all you need to do is reach for that slab!
The body contains a certain number of good bacteria, the most common of which is in the gut. These bacteria promote good digestive health. Specific activities that this type of bacteria assists with are:
Believe it or not, we have about 100 trillion good bacteria in our stomachs. When good bacteria come into contact with dark chocolate, they feed on it. The by-product of this process is anti-inflammatory compounds that help to prevent cardiac disease.
Researchers have found that it’s the flavonoids that benefit the bacteria during the digestion process. These chemicals cause blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure and aiding heart health.
Today’s word is stressful. The advances in technology have made it easier for us to perform many tasks at the same time. Although this has increased our efficiency, it’s also increased the number of things that we have to think about on a daily basis. This leaves us swirling!
Because of our stressful lifestyles, some women start to suffer from high blood pressure, which is otherwise known as hypertension. High blood pressure can be dangerous and may lead to stroke, so it’s important to keep it at bay, or under control.
About ten years ago, researchers studied the blood pressure of the Kuna Indians who live on a small island in the Caribbean. The studies found that the Kuna’s blood pressure was extremely low due to the three to four cups of cocoa they drank daily. So if you suffer from high blood pressure, there’s a good reason to drink a delicious cup of dark hot chocolate!
Studies have found that dark chocolate, especially the varieties that contain between 70 to 85% of cocoa solids, contain far more iron than spinach does. For example, 100g of dark chocolate contains more than 10.5mg of iron. Iron has many beneficial functions in the body, such as improving general energy levels.
However, before you think that you need to start increasing your iron intake substantially to get that extra burst of energy, there’s something to keep in mind. In older adults, getting more iron than is necessary – even if it’s just a bit more – can lead to serious health complications. If you think that you may be suffering from an iron deficiency, make sure that you consult a doctor first.
In addition to iron, dark chocolate is also rich in fiber, something women over 50 often need more of. Dark chocolate has high volumes of magnesium, copper manganese, selenium, potassium, zinc and phosphorus, all of which can promote health and keep you functioning at your prime.
Dark chocolate is one of the top sources of L-tryptophan that you can get in your diet. L-tryptophan is responsible for manufacturing certain proteins in your body, as well as serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter.
Serotonin is widely known as the feel-good neurotransmitter of the body. In other words, it makes people feel happy, which is why many psychiatrists prescribe SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) to women who suffer from depression. This medication causes serotonin to remain in the system for longer, providing a prolonged sense of well-being.
It’s no wonder that in the 17th-century, doctors prescribed drinking chocolate as a way of soothing strong emotions such as lust, melancholy, and pining. So, when you think chocolate will make you feel better, you’re right. The science says so too!
With so many health benefits to eating dark chocolate, there’s never been a better time to open that slab and enjoy a bit of antioxidant, mood-boosting goodness.
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