Delay Ageing With Chocolate
Born on 21st February 1875, Jeanne Louise Calment lived 122 years and 164 days in Arles, France. Until her death on 4th August 1997, she ate nearly 2.2lbs (about one kilo) of chocolate every week1 She took up fencing at the age of 85 and used to cycle until her 100th Birthday! Can this be attributed to Chocolate? Scientists world over seem to be researching this aspect of chocolate.
We see chocolate in fancy attractive packaging. with little realization of its long journey from a small tropical tree, to the shop shelf. Chocolate comes from cocoa beans which are collected. dried and fermented seeds of the cacao tree. The Theobroma Cacao is a small evergreen tree native to Central and South America but almost 70 per cent of it is grown in Africa!
Cacao and the related dark chocolate products contain high levels of antioxidants called flavonols. Research from the university of Milan (Italy) shows that dark chocolate is composed of polyphenols and epicatechin. These help in increasing the catechin levels, which in turn decrease DNA damage. hence the importance in ageing. as DNA damage causes ageing. The good effects of dark chocolate span across various aspects of health related conditions, disease and beauty, from blood pressure to stress levels to wrinkles and anti-ageing.
Chocolate And Health
In a landmark study by the German Institute of Human Nutrition, 19,357 people, aged 35 to 65 years, were followed for ten years. One group was given seven and a halt grams of dark chocolate per day and another only about six grams per day. Results revealed that those who consumed the smaller amount had a much higher blood pressure level and a higher risk of stroke as compared with those who had seven and a half grams per day. This group showed lower levels of blood pressure and a 39 per cent lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke!
The Karolinska Institute, Sweden reports an eight year study on 1169 non-diabetic individuals showing that chocolate consumption two to three times a week reduces cardiac death by 66 per cent. A team from Nestle Research Center (Switzerland) also reported that a small portion of dark chocolate can ward off stress. The team studied 30 men and women, each of whom was classified by anxiety level.
The study monitored the consumption of 20 grams of dark chocolate during mid-morning and afternoon by the subjects. Results showed that subjects with high anxiety traits showed changes in their metabolic profiles and a marked reduction in their stress-related biochemical markers and stress related hormone levels.
Research from McM aster University Canada has also assessed the effect of chocolate consumption and flavonoid intake to a lower death rate by a stroke. The Beth Israel Medical Center in Massachusetts USA observed men and women above the age of 72 and reported a 10 per cent increase in cerebral blood flow due to consumption of 900mg per day of flavonols rich cocoa.
These studies suggest that indulging in up to twenty grams of dark chocolate twice a week may help improve our cardiovascular risk profile! Another exciting benefit of consuming chocolate in moderate amounts is related to improvement in cognitive function in ageing adults.
Coming to skin care and beauty. Cambridge based Lycotec has developed an anti-ageing chocolate called Esthechoc. These are vegan diabetic friendly bars made from 70 per cent dark chocolate, enriched with cacao polyphenols and algae extracts – a mere seven and a halt grams of this provides antioxidant benefits equivalent to 300 grams of wild Alaskan salmon! It has been called the first ‘beauty’ chocolate for slowing the ageing process by enhancing blood circulation, oxygenation and detoxification.
However, researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital-New York caution that further dinical trials are required and Esthochoc cannot replace a diet rich in fresh fish, fruits and vegetables and a healthy lifestyle! So, exciting times are ahead for the ageing adult, it’s time to satiate your chocolate cravings and stay healthy!