Health Benefits Of Chocolate
People looking to maintain a healthy diet tend to steer clear of chocolate as it is generally considered bad for your health. However, numerous studies have shown that dark chocolate actually offers an array of health benefits that can be particularly beneficial for seniors or people above 55 years.
Why Dark Chocolate?
It is important to note that the said benefits are primarily associated with one kind of chocolate, dark chocolate. To gain the health benefits of consuming chocolate, it should contain a minimum of 60% cacao content. But experts recommend going for chocolate containing at least 70% cacao, and if you can get your hands on one containing up to 90%, the better.
Light chocolate isn’t recommended as it contains high amounts of artificial sugars and lactose ingredients. It also contains very little cacao content.
Chocolates that have a high cacao content are rich in polyphenols and minerals. Polyphenols are the chemical compounds responsible for the health benefits of chocolate. They are also found in fruits, vegetables, and red wine.
Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Eating dark chocolate, of course in moderation, can offer a wide range of health benefits to seniors:
Improved Cognitive Function
First, it is important to note that polyphenols have two general classes – flavonoids and phenolic acids. Flavonoids have been found to have strong neuroprotective properties that help to boost brain health. Flavonoids help to improve blood flow to the brain and help preserve cognitive ability. Seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can greatly benefit from the neuroprotective properties of the flavonoids found in dark chocolate.
Improved Heart Health
Dark chocolate has been found to contain certain compounds that help to prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins(LDL), the bad type of cholesterol. This significantly helps to lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In fact, studies have shown that consuming small amounts of chocolate can help reduce the risk of heart disease by one-third.
Can Potentially Help to Prevent Cancer
Apart from the neuroprotective properties of flavonoids, they are also powerful antioxidants that help in regulating cell activity to fight off carcinogens and toxins. This plays a crucial role in preventing and fighting off cancer.
Protects the Skin
As people age, their skin starts to thin out. As a result, there is a high risk of the skin getting damaged from UV rays and also developing skin cancer. Fortunately, the flavanols contained in dark chocolate help to protect epithelial cells and also increase blood flow to the skin, providing more nutrients to the skin and ensuring proper skin hydration. The flavanols can also help to heal skin already damaged by the harmful UV rays.
Improves Good Cholesterol Levels
As earlier discussed, certain compounds present in dark chocolate help to prevent the oxidation of LDL, thus minimizing the effects of bad cholesterol, which include the build-up of plaque in blood vessels and arteries. In addition, cocoa butter contains healthy monounsaturated fats, which help to boost the levels of High-density lipoprotein (HDL) or ‘good’ cholesterol in the body. Good cholesterol contributes to improved cardiovascular health.
As you can see, there is a lot you stand to gain from the consumption of chocolate. However, with such products, moderation is key. You definitely want to achieve all the intended benefits while minimizing the potential side effects. It is important to keep in mind that chocolate can contain high amounts of sugar, caffeine, and calories. Thus, it is important for seniors to exercise some discretion.
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