By: Red Hot Mamas
Published: April 12, 2016
Contributed by Evlin Symon- Guest Contributor
If you have ever felt guilty about eating chocolate, you can now rest assured that there is no reason for such worries. Several scientific studies have linked chocolate consumption to various health benefits that can be especially beneficial for women going through menopause. As you are probably trying various therapies to relieve menopause symptoms, we recommend you also include chocolate. But make sure your chocolate of choice is high in cocoa content to get the full benefits. For a long time, chocolate has been considered an unhealthy comfort food, but as it turns out, chocolate can be a great functional food and here is why:
1. Chocolate can prevent cardiovascular disease
Because estrogen has a protective effect on the cardiovascular system, menopausal women are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). Healthy lifestyle choices such as avoiding tobacco, eating a high-fiber diet, and exercising, can significantly decrease the risk of developing CVD, but chocolate can also keep your heart and blood vessels healthy. Several studies on humans have shown a positive outcome on cardiovascular health as a result of chocolate consumption. The secret lies in chocolate’s flavonoids, a type of heart-healthy antioxidant that combats free radicals.
2. Chocolate can help you focus
Another study linked chocolate consumption to better brain function. While chocolate’s ability to increase blood flow to the brain can in itself make for better brain function, scientist found that chocolate flavonoids also prevent the death of brain cells, thus reducing the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Subjects who were given cocoa drinks showed better working and visual memory as well. If you have trouble with menopause brain fog, including dark chocolate in your diet can help keep you focused.
3. Chocolate can prevent sun damage
Skin goes through many changes as we age, and this might become especially noticeable in menopause. The loss of estrogen inhibits the production of dark pigment cells, making the skin in midlife prone to sun damage. Eating a bar of dark chocolate weekly can protect your skin from harmful UV rays. However, the skin protecting effect of chocolate is only associated with flavonoid-rich dark chocolate.
4. Chocolate can improve your mood
A tasty box of chocolate can improve anyone’s mood, and there is scientific research to support this. A study done on rats linked chocolate intake with a reduction in depression symptoms, although the mechanisms behind that are still unknown. One possible explanation is that chocolate helps boost serotonin levels, the neurotransmitter responsible for the feel-good factor. So, if menopause symptoms are taking their toll on your mood, a bar of chocolate will help you see the sunny side of things.
5. Chocolate is nutritious
Eating chocolate with high cocoa content will provide you with a high dose of vitamin K, magnesium, and iron. Chocolate is also high in oleic acid, which makes it good for lowering bad cholesterol levels. Physicians will often suggest dietary supplements to women going through menopause because menopause can inhibit nutrient absorption.
The good news is that chocolate’s health benefits outweigh any possible risk factors. Just make sure to choose your chocolates wisely. Dark chocolate, and especially cocoa powder, contains considerably more nutrients and antioxidants than milk chocolate. Milk chocolate is exceptionally higher in calories and lower in flavonoids. While different menopause treatments will help you go through menopause gracefully, a bar of dark chocolate a week will make a great natural addition to your therapy.
Evlin Symon is a freelance health writer from New Jersey. She enjoys learning about a wide variety of wellness issues and staying up-to-date on the latest research on menopause signs. She also is the author of many active blogs. You can find her on Facebook.