Our PhenomX headquarters is in Switzerland, where we have some of the most delicious chocolate in the world. With a chocolaterie in nearly every village and multiple in every city, living here has taught me a new appreciation for the divine taste of chocolate and the endless ways it can be made and enjoyed. Choosing high cocoa dark chocolate (70-85% cocoa) is easy to rationalize since it has some great health benefits from its rich content of bioactive nutrients, including polyphenols, flavanols and catechins.
In postmenopausal women, dark chocolate attenuates subsequent food intake when compared to milk and white chocolate ; and improves blood flow to the brain and reduces inflammation in the arteries . Its effect on improvement in blood circulation can also lead to an improvement in sex drive which often decreases for women during perimenopause. High cocoa dark chocolate flavanols may slow down the visual skin aging women start experiencing during this time. This is because cocoa intake has been shown to protect the skin from the harmful effects of sunlight, while improving blood flow to the skin and increasing skin hydration and density .
Did you know chocolate increases estrogen in the body? Estrogenic foods, such as soy and chocolate, can be helpful to reduce low estrogen related symptoms, such as irregular menstrual cycles, mood swings and hot flashes. High cocoa dark chocolate also makes us feel good by triggering the release of endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin that are considered the “feel good” neurotransmitters. In women suffering from low neurotransmitter production which can occur in the setting of low estrogen, chocolate may help mitigate this situation.
Variations in the gene for oxytocin have been associated with higher food intake and waist circumference . Perimenopausal and menopausal women suffering from low oxytocin who also have these gene variations may experience a more exaggerated desire for chocolate to mitigate their symptoms.
As a perimenopausal women living in Switzerland, I have also had to learn how to turn my chocolate craving into something that is healthful and satisfying. My favorite option is to combine 85% dark chocolate with cocoa nibs to extend the flavor. Sometimes, I also throw in some gogi berries or plain coconut flakes to extend the good nutrition.
We hope this article has inspired you to choose high cocoa dark chocolate as a part of your healthy diet strategy on your menopausal journey towards rejuvenation and longevity.