Many of us have an insatiable sweet tooth, but will do everything in our power to avoid chocolate because it’s supposedly so unhealthy. Even after giving into the temptation, a lot of us tend to feel guilty afterwards. However, you may not have to quit chocolate entirely because dark chocolate can actually enhance your anti-aging diet. If you haven’t heard about the benefits of dark chocolate as part of your anti-aging diet, you’re in for a real treat. Chocolate can not only satisfy your craving, but it’s also packed with powerful antioxidants.
Antioxidants are critical for an anti-aging diet because they fight free radicals, which are mutated cell formations that attack your healthy cells. The more antioxidants you put into your body through a well-rounded anti-aging diet, the more health benefits you can obtain.
The antioxidants in cocoa have been noted in reducing the risk of heart problems that are associated with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Cocoa contains a lot of flavonoids, which are compounds with antioxidant properties that have been shown to help lower blood pressure. Since dark chocolate is high in cocoa, incorporating it into your anti-aging diet can help prevent heart attacks and strokes. The flavonoids in dark chocolate have also been known to improve coronary circulation. This means that including dark chocolate in your anti-aging diet can actually improve how your heart’s blood vessels are functioning.
Unlike sugary sweets in your anti-aging diet that can feed cancer cells, the antioxidants in dark chocolate have been linked to the reduction of some cancers, such as colon cancer. Research has shown that the activity of the antioxidants in dark chocolate can prevent cell damage caused by accumulated waste in the body. Preventing cell damage means preventing inflammation and oxidation in the body—both of these conditions put you at a higher risk of developing cancer. Therefore, adding a bit of dark chocolate to your anti-aging diet can inadvertently prevent cancer.
Free radical damage can lead to the development of wrinkles, but free radicals don’t stand much of a chance against the antioxidants in dark chocolate. A study out of the U.K. found that when participants added 20 grams a day of flavanol-rich dark chocolate to their anti-aging diet, their skin was better able to tolerate harmful UV rays—UV damage is one of the biggest causes of wrinkles.
When you eat a small amount of dark chocolate as part of your anti-aging diet, it triggers an increase in your body’s level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood. Depression is often linked to a serotonin imbalance. Furthermore, eating dark chocolate can increase the level of endorphins in your brain—endorphins are another neurotransmitter that affect mood. A release of endorphins in your body is associated with feeling euphoric and stress-free. So, dark chocolate in your anti-aging diet can actually serve as a natural anti-depressant.
How to Properly Add Dark Chocolate to Your Anti-Aging Diet
Although it contains antioxidants, dark chocolate should still be eaten in moderation, since it’s high in calories and saturated fat—that means too much of it in your anti-aging diet can still lead to weight gain. Stick to no more than one square a day. Pay attention to the percentage of cocoa in dark chocolate as well. More cocoa means more antioxidants, which brings more health benefits, so look for 65% or higher when adding dark chocolate to your anti-aging diet. You may also want to keep in mind that dark chocolate can come with a price tag. Generally, the higher the cocoa percentage means the more expensive it will probably be.
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