The Natural Beauty Show discuss menopause

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A recent study has suggested that chocolate could offer menopausal women added health benefits if a small amount is consumed daily in a narrow window, an hour after waking. The notorious naughty treat has long been associated with weight gain as it is rich in fat, sugar and calories.

But researchers found it could help women going through the menopause burn fat and decrease their blood sugar levels.

Published in the FASEB Journal, the study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in collaboration with the University of Murcia in Spain revealed eating milk chocolate at a certain time of day can impact a person’s body weight.

Spread over the course of two weeks, the findings suggested the effects of eating a concentrated amount of chocolate during a narrow window of time disregards the caloric intake.

The controlled trial saw 19 postmenopausal women consume 100g of chocolate in the morning within one hour after waking, or one hour before bedtime at night.

The results showed that the participants did not gain weight throughout the two week study, but in fact decreased their hunger and cravings for sweet foods in general.

It also increased fat burning by giving them a boost in physical activity throughout the day and positively impacted their sleep.

Dr Frank Scheer, who was part of the study, explained: “Our findings highlight that not only ‘what’ but also ‘when’ we eat can impact physiological mechanisms involved in the regulation of body weight.”

His colleague also involved in the research, Dr Marta Garaulet, added: “Our volunteers did not gain weight despite increasing caloric intake.

“Our results show that chocolate reduced ad libitum energy intake, consistent with the observed reduction in hunger, appetite and the desire for sweets shown in previous studies.”

Thierry Muret, executive chef chocolatier at Godiva, explained why chocolate can become addictive.

He told The Manual: “In the cocoa beans, you have dopamine, phenylethylamine, caffeine, and anandamide.

“Anandamide is actually a happy neurotransmitter in your brain; it’s called the bliss molecule.

“So the anandamide makes you feel blessed, makes you feel happy, makes you feel good.”

He explained it’s “naturally in your brain”, but is only active for a short period of time.

“It seems that when you eat dark chocolate, you retain those anandamides longer and the caffeine is giving you energy.”

Dark chocolate has typically about half the sugar of milk chocolate and contains less (or no) milk.

As it has a higher percentage of cacao, it has more fibre, minerals and antioxidants, too.

More studies have shown that eating dark chocolate will satisfy sweet cravings and combat depression and other mood changes during menopause.

This is because dark chocolate contains magnesium, the mineral that helps raise serotonin levels responsible for stabilising moods.

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