Ahh, chocolate: the perfect food. ☺
I don’t just say that because I love it. Cacao has been around for thousands of years and it’s woven into history as a luxury food, medicine, and currency.
Cacao’s coveted status can be attributed to its more than 300 phytochemicals, including vitamins, minerals, and dietary nutrients such as: fat, carbohydrates, fiber, iron, zinc, copper, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur.
It also has a host of antioxidants and health-boosting components like quercetin, flavonoids, flavanols, xanthenes, polyphenols, caffeine, theobromine, phenylethylamine, and anandamide.
Did you know anandamide comes from the Sanskrit word
Ananda used in Yoga describing joy, bliss, and delight?
I know I’m certainly joyful, blissed out, and totally delighted when I’m eating dark chocolate!Serving as so much more than just a luxurious treat, cocoa is also a stimulant, antibacterial, antioxidant, and fierce protector of the cardiovascular system. These functions are important aspects when looking at anti-aging benefits.
Finally there are some consistent scientific findings to support what we chocolate lovers have known all along… it’s really good for you!
And, now we know that these same health benefits offer an anti-aging bonus as well.
Here’s what the most recent studies are finding from regular, moderate consumption of unsweetened cocoa powder and 70% or darker chocolate:
- Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves platelet function
- Raises HDL and decreases LDL oxidation
- Provides beneficial effects for controlling arterial blood pressure
- May serve as an effective preventive strategy against cardiovascular problems for people with metabolic syndrome, including health challenges such as diabetes and obesity
The age-defying effects of dark chocolate on cardiovascular health are clearly beneficial and are, in part, due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Studies have even demonstrated dark chocolate’s polyphenols (flavonols and cathechins) provide a better prophylactic and therapeutic benefit against coronary artery disease than coffee and green tea… That sounds like an anti-aging campaign to me!
And now, for my favorite benefits:
Chocolate reduces stress and is good for your brain.
I place a lot of emphasis in my coaching on reducing stress and supporting brain health. And it’s true. Studies have concluded that cocoa polyphenols:
- Increase mobilization of free fatty acids after exercise
- Reduce oxidative stress markers known to speed up aging
- Act as an antidepressant and mood leveler
- Improve cognitive function by influencing neurotransmitters (your feel-good biochemical components)
- Restore glutathione levels
However you choose to find joy and bliss with dark chocolate, remember to keep your portions to 1-2 ounces depending on your personal dietary goals and hunger and satiety cues.
Discover the depth of flavors from different cocoa beans around the world. Like a fine wine, enjoy it slowly and delight in the rich, savory nuances of the cocoa bean.
Let’s hear 3 cheers for Chocolate!