Chocolate is a delicious sweet to eat any time of day (yes, even sometimes during breakfast!), but on top of being a crowd-favorite treat, did you know that cocoa extract could be a potential key to longevity?
In a new animal study for Aging, scientists looked at how diets of cocoa and green tea extract in mice affected age-related nerve and muscle decline, which is common in humans as well. Sarcopenia, which is when the body slowly loses tissue, is a leading cause of mobility problems in seniors, many of whom turn to medications or other medical interventions to help them through the day. But what if a few small dietary changes could help mitigate some of those symptoms and provide a better quality of life?
Researchers found that while green tea extract didn’t reverse signs of nerve- and muscle-related damage in their study, cocoa extract did the trick. They believe that a series of powerful compounds called flavonoids might be at the center of why cocoa is so effective. Flavonoids are largely found in plant-based foods and are anti-inflammatory in nature, protecting your body from damage, swelling, and other health issues over time. Scientists are quick to point out that they need to conduct more thorough research on how cocoa powder specifically affects humans, but the results of this initial work are promising. Cocoa extract itself also won’t entirely reverse signs of aging, but it could be a beneficial part of a healthier diet.
You may not want to start buying endless chocolate bars anytime soon, but the next time you do pick up something chocolatey, know that it could protect you from internal signs of aging. And if you want even more of a boost from your cocoa powder, adding it to your coffee could rev up your metabolism. Who knew?