Fostering a long and healthy life is a multi-faceted and complex endeavour. Research to date has established that genetics and lifestyle factors influence lifespan in equal measure. But incorporating some life-prolonging foods into one’s diet may override their genetic predisposition to early death, according to some scientists. Dark chocolate, for example, contains levels of antioxidants high enough to significantly improve blood pressure and ward off disease.
Dark chocolate boasts wide-ranging benefits, many of which have been found to boost the chances of reaching old age.
Research conducted at Harvard found people who ate chocolate lived a year so longer than those who didn’t.
What’s more, findings revealed that those who ate three bars of chocolate per month had a 36 percent lower risk of premature death.
The team of researchers established that eating dark chocolate on a regular basis was inversely related to cardiovascular or cancer-related mortality.
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The health benefits of dark chocolate have been attributed to its inimitable flavonoid content, which confers significant antioxidant benefits.
Generally speaking, the higher the cocoa concentration of dark chocolate, the more active compounds it contains.
Medical News Today explains: “Dark chocolate is a rich source of antioxidants and minerals, and it generally contains less sugar than milk.
“Some research suggests that dark chocolate may help lower the risk of heart disease, reduce inflammation and insulin resistance and improve brain function.”
The anti-inflammatory benefits of dark chocolate for brain health are well documented too.
In fact, some of the compounds in dark chocolate have been shown to boost memory, attention span, reaction time and problem-solving skills.
These effects have been put down to chocolate’s flavonoids, which improve blood flow to the brain.
Healthline states: “Dark chocolate improves memory, reduces stress.
“Researchers say eating dark chocolate can change your brain wave frequency, providing benefits in memory improvement and stress reduction.
Researchers from the University of Erlangen in Nuremberg and Auburn University in Alabama, found the combination of dark chocolate and zinc supplements to be particularly beneficial for health.
The combination of both products appeared to lengthen lifespans by protecting against oxidative stress, a gas that leads to ageing and other illnesses.
These effects were observed during a series of laboratory trials.
Zinc is renowned for its benefits in helping the body fend off harmful bacteria, whereas the polyphenols in dark chocolate are powerful antioxidants.
According to some bodies of research, dark chocolate can also improve blood pressure by stimulating endothelium – the thin membrane that lines the walls of the blood vessels.
These benefits of blood pressure have been attributed to nitric oxide, which sends signals to the arteries to relax.
In doing so, the pressure exerted against the arterial walls lessens, lowering blood pressure.