New study finds that eating chocolate actually helps you live longer

New study finds that eating chocolate actually helps you live longer

There are few foods more delicious than chocolate. Seriously, growing up with two dentists for parents, I was always aware of the dual nature of this particular candy. On the one hand, it was such a wonderful treat to bite into something caramel-filled and nougaty from time to time, and savour the delicious sweetness of it.

But on the other hand, my parents were always quick to remind me of the dangers chocolate posed: the inevitable cavities and decay and tooth-rotting that came from excess. As a kid, I would always wish glumly that chocolate was actually healthy. However now, as it turns out, a new scientific study seems to suggest that it may actually be the key to living a longer life. Apparently, indulging in some chocolatey goodness from time to time, while taking zinc supplements, helps to activate a compound which slows down the ageing process. How is this possible? Read on to find out.

An image of chocolate and chocolate powder. Credit: Getty

The first thing to note is that chocolate contains the antioxidant polyphenols - which helps combat damage to the body's cells. A number of boffins from the University of Erlangen in Nuremberg recently discovered that zinc activates a compound in polyphenols found in chocolate. This activation can subsequently protects the body against toxic gasses which are commonly produced as cell waste products.

According to the research published in the scientific journal 'Nature Chemistry', these gasses play a key role in the ageing process, and are also linked to inflammations which can lead to more serious maladies, such as cancer and or even Alzheimer's disease. When the Polyphenols contained in chocolate are combined with zinc, they form a 'mega complex' which mimics the naturally-occurring superoxide dismutase enzyme that destroys the dangerous gas.

Commenting on the study's findings, lead author Dr Ivana Ivanović-Burmazović stated: "'It is certainly possible wine, coffee, tea or chocolate may well become be available in [the] future with added zinc. However, any alcohol content whatsoever would destroy the positive effects of this combination."

An image of chocolate and chocolate powder. Credit: Getty

Chocolate can also release endorphins which can alter our mood, which makes it useful for people suffering from mental health problems, and can help lower high blood pressure. A 2011 study of the Swedish Mammography Cohort, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, discovered an inverse relationship between chocolate consumption in women and the prevalence of strokes in later life. When women ate more chocolate they reduced cerebral infarction risk by 12 per cent, and the risk of hemorrhagic strokes by 27 per cent. A more recent study looking at a cohort of over 37,000 Swedish men has reported that people who ate 1.8 oz of chocolate a week had a 17 per cent lower risk of suffering a stroke compared with people who ate less than 0.4 oz per week.

So there you have it : next time you bite into a chocolate bar, don't feel guilty about it. It could help you live to be 100!