Yes you can have some dark chocolate this Easter – not too much and not too little.
Happy Easter to you all!
Having a small amount of dark chocolate is part of the MyMT Food Guide in both of my programmes, because of the wonderful healthy antioxidants it contains … and the darker the better. An antioxidant is a molecule that helps our immune health because it inhibits the oxidation of molecules in the cell. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, which can lead to damaged cells and inflammation in our tissues. But the good news is that dark chocolate is known to reduce inflammation from damaged cells in our body, as well as helping to boost our blood vessels. This is important for women as they transition menopause, because a known effect of lowering oestrogen production is more ‘stiffness’ in our blood vessels. For those of you who do a lot of high-intensity exercise, this phenomenon contributes to the higher lactic acid levels in your muscles after exercise, which may be why you feel aching and sore.
As healthy-ageing medical practitioner, Dr Andrew Weil says,
The science about chocolate – that it makes blood vessels more flexible – adds to accumulating evidence that chocolate offers a number of health benefits and may be good for the heart. Earlier findings had shown that chocolate contains polyphenols, the same kinds of antioxidants found in red wine and green tea; stearic acid, a type of fat that doesn’t raise cholesterol levels; and flavonoids, which reduce the stickiness of platelets, inhibiting blood clotting and reducing the danger of coronary artery blockages.
The researchers found that on the days the volunteers ate dark chocolate (as opposed to those who ate fake chocolate), endothelial function was improved for about three hours. These are interesting findings, but we don’t yet know what they mean in terms of preventing cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, or deaths. However, because blood vessels begin to stiffen as we age, and more-so in women with low oestrogen levels post-menopause [this is also why women’s risk for heart disease changes as they go into their post-menopause years), this positive research on dark chocolate is heartening for all of us!
If you are out shopping for chocolate this weekend, then look for dark chocolate with higher cacao and lower sugar content. Cacao’s health benefits are related to natural compounds in the bean, including epicatechin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and resveratrol, known for its neuro-protective and mood-enhancing effects with our brain hormones, serotonin and dopamine. When you find a great-tasting dark chocolate have it with some nuts or other forms of protein which helps to counteract the increased effect of high blood sugar levels from the sugar.
The secret is not to eat too much – 2-4 portions a day, not the entire packet!
I hope that this Easter break is a relaxing one for you and that you can enjoy doing whatever you love to do. If you are struggling with your menopause symptoms then also try and find some time to read the other articles in this newsletter as well as go to the My Menopause Transformation website and do my SYMPTOMS TEST and/ or read the amazing SUCCESS STORIES from women who have kindly shared their journey as they have completed the 12 week online MyMT programmes. There are two different programmes – one for thinner women and one for women who want to lose their menopause weight and feel healthy again – and yes, they enjoy a bit of chocolate with that healthy, weight loss programme too.