Whether you like it or not, you have to agree that chocolate has always been an inseparable part of our lives. From early childhood to our aging years, it’s been there on birthday parties, anniversaries, weddings, business seminars, restaurant openings, and basically every other type of celebration. It’s also considered to be the best consolation food, too. It’s usually the first thing we run to when we feel sad or when we need a quick energy boost. There have been many studies on the health benefits of chocolate. What they all have in common is that eating small amounts of dark chocolate can have numerous positive effects on people’s overall health, especially on those over 50. Here are some of the reasons why you shouldn’t feel guilty the next time you indulge in this delicious sweet.
1. Dark chocolate reduces cardiovascular diseases.
Eating a few pieces of dark chocolate a week can have many benefits on your heart. Heart complications are usually caused by the oxidation of the bad type of cholesterol, also known as LDL. Compounds found in dark chocolate lower the levels of bad cholesterol while boosting the good one at the same time. Good cholesterol or HDL is crucial in the process of maintaining the good health of your heart and arteries. Aside from keeping your cholesterol levels balanced, dark chocolate also lowers blood pressure. Older adults face these problems quite often and that’s why these benefits target their age group the most.
2. It boosts cognitive skills in older adults.
As we get older, one of the main goals is to stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Keeping your brain active will lower the chances of many illnesses as well ensure you have a young spirit no matter the age. Chocolate is made from cocoa beans which are rich in flavanols. They are natural compounds that have a great impact on the cognitive performance of the brain as well as on attention, working speed, and memory function. One of the neuroprotective functions the flavanols have is the reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. They increase the blood flow to the brain thus help increase the brain function.
3. Chocolate is always the perfect gift.
You just can’t go wrong with chocolate, no matter the occasion. The industry has come so far that you now have an insane variety of options to choose from. Whether it’s a heart-shaped box of chocolates, an Easter bunny or a chocolate fountain, it will undoubtedly put a smile on the face of a person receiving it. If you want something more creative and unique to impress your loved ones, go for stunning and creative chocolate bouquets or a box full of strawberries dipped in delicious dark chocolate. There are also hand-made chocolate brands that make high-quality products with different types of dried fruits and herbs. The possibilities are endless, all you need is a little bit of imagination.
4. It battles insomnia.
Sleep deprivation is something many people face as they get older. There are many ways to battle insomnia. One of them has proven to be extremely efficient and that is a consummation of the flavanols enriched foods. Flavanols increase the blood flow to the brain. Consequently, they increase its cognitive functions which can help with sleepless nights. This has proven especially beneficial for elderly women who were battling sleep deprivation. By eating small amounts of dark chocolate every week, you’ll bring your sleeping routine back in order.
5. It’s a mood booster.
Everyone who enjoys eating chocolate will testify that one of the main reasons for doing so is simply because it tastes great. If you’re one of them, you have probably noticed that after nomming on this delicious sweet you feel good, too. There’s a scientific explanation for this. Chemical compounds that are found in chocolate domake people happier naturally. Phenylethylamine is one of those compounds which acts as a neurotransmitter. It boosts the endorphins or so-called “happy-chemicals” which in turn boosts your overall mood. However, as much as it feels good, you should be careful when it comes to the amount of chocolate you consume. Also, stick to organic dark chocolate which contains at least 70% of cocoa.
6. Chocolate reduces the risk of skin cancer.
As we get older, our skin gets thinner with time and thus becomes more prone to health problems like skin cancer. Soaking up the sun is an important way of getting that much-needed vitamin D. However, it can take its toll on our skin if we’re not careful enough. Flavanols found in dark chocolate protect your skin by protecting its epithelial cells. By doing this, they protect your skin from the sun’s damage and skin cancer. Aside from indulging in a few pieces of good-quality dark chocolate a week, make sure you regularly apply sunscreen with a high sun protection factor every time you leave the house.
7. It’s good for your gut.
Your gut is a home for millions of good bacteria responsible for a strong immune system, metabolism, and many other processes that contribute to good health. Their disturbed balance can have many negative consequences. Fatigue, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, and cancer are just some of them. Flavanols are rich with antioxidants which help with lowering cholesterol, slowing down cognitive decline, and keeping the heart healthy. Studies have shown that consumption of cocoa promotes healthy bacteria in our gut. Also, they prevent the inflammatory processes in our intestines. By doing this, they keep our gut health and our overall health, too.
Chocolate has many benefits for our health. If you indulge in small amounts of good-quality dark chocolate from time to time, there’s absolutely no reason to feel guilty about it. It’s also a perfect way to express love and gratitude to people around us. Whenever you’re in a doubt about choosing a present, say it with chocolate. Aside from a better mood, it will benefit your body as well. With age, we become more vulnerable, and this delicious treat is there to help us stay healthy, happy, and beautiful.
This guest post was graciously provided by Mia Johnson, a freelance writer with a ten-year long career in journalism.