From time to time, all of us wish we could stop aging. But even though there is nothing- not even magical pills or birthday wishes- that can keep us young forever, there are certain foods that could stave off age-related diseases, such as high blood pressure and dementia, and add years to our lives.
Some of the best age-defying, antioxidant rich foods include whole grains, nuts, olive oil, and all kinds of berries, including blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries.
But, did you know that dark chocolate can also slow down our biological clocks?
Yes, dark chocolate – especially if it’s over 70% cocoa – can taste very bitter and be quite distasteful. But it’s about time that we start loving it, because it’s the new elixir of youth.
Just recently, scientists have discovered that cocoa beans, the main ingredient in chocolate, are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Antioxidants help rid our bodies of free radicals, uncharged molecules with unpaired electrons in their outer shells, that may cause oxidative stress to our cells. Oxidative stress leads to many diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, heart failure, cancers, and inflammatory diseases. Dark chocolate helps protect us from these diseases and slows our aging process.
What’s more, antioxidants found in cocoa beans are also rich in flavanols. These chemicals can help us maintain our youthful blood vessels, increase blood flow to the brain and heart, and reduce the risks of age-related diseases, such as high blood pressure, stroke, and arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It’s therefore not surprising to find that the Kuna people, who live off the coast of Panama and drink cocoa everyday, have a rate of heart disease that is nine times less than that of the mainland Panamanians who don’t drink cocoa daily.
The health perks of this superfood go even further. Scientists have discovered lots of chemical compounds that have a positive effect on our mood and cognitive health in dark chocolate. Among them is phenylethylamine (PEA) – the exact same chemical our brains create when we fall in love! What’s so special about this magical chemical is that it encourages our brains to release endorphins that make us feel happy.
Even more magical is the fact that dark chocolate doesn’t just make us physically younger, it also makes just look younger because of its loads of bioactive compounds. These compounds protect our skin against harmful UV rays, increase blood flow to our skin, and help it retain moisture. This means fewer wrinkles, less sunspots, and a much more beautiful glow. So next time you’re hungry in the afternoon, snack smart. No junk food. Grab yourself a bar of dark chocolate and nibble away!