Why CHOCOLATE is the perfect pre-workout snack for middle-aged people: Cocoa increases blood flow and makes exercise easier by faster absorption of oxygen, research shows
- Scientists say chocolate is the ideal pre-workout snack for middle-aged people
- Cocoa flavanol increases blood flow and makes exercise easier, study finds
- Vegetable nutrient is in cocoa powder and to a lesser extent in dark chocolate
- Consuming shake with one and a half tablespoons of cocoa provides the best benefits
There is good news for all those chocolate lovers out there.
It turns out that the sweet snack can help middle-aged people exercise because it provides the perfect pre-workout hit, according to a new study.
Researchers have discovered that a bioactive compound in cocoa increases blood flow and makes exercise easier through faster absorption of oxygen.
Because the rate at which oxygen consumption increases at the beginning of exercise slows with age, these compounds were found to be especially helpful for middle-aged gym-goers.
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There is good news for all those chocolate lovers out there. It turns out that the sweet snack can help middle-aged people exercise by giving them the ideal pre-workout hit (stock image)
COCOA CAN INCREASE OXYGEN LEVELS IN THE BRAIN
Drinking cocoa can increase your mental dexterity thanks to the presence of flavanols – chemicals that are abundant in cocoa beans.
British and American researchers found that healthy adults performed better on difficult cognitive tasks if the participants consumed a cocoa drink high in flavanols.
After drinking flavanol-rich cocoa, the participants produced a faster and greater increase in blood oxygenation in the frontal cortex — a brain region that plays a key role in cognition and decision-making — that allowed them to complete these tasks.
Flavanols are antioxidants and are abundant in tea, red wine, blueberries, apples, pears, cherries and peanuts, as well as in the seeds of the cocoa tree – cocoa beans.
By fortifying supermarket cocoa with flavanols, food manufacturers can help us increase the brain-stimulating plant nutrient in our diets.
Read more: Drinking cocoa can boost your mental agility
Flavanols occur naturally in many plants, including tea, apples, various berries and cocoa beans. The plant nutrient, which can be taken as a supplement, is also found in cocoa powder and to a lesser extent in dark chocolate.
It is known to have a beneficial effect on health. So a group of researchers from Liverpool John Moores University and Liverpool Hope University tested its impact on a group of ‘sedentary’ but healthy adults between the ages of 40 and 60.
In a series of trials over a five-week period, the group was pushed to exhaustion using a lab-based exercise bike to determine each individual’s ability and their VO2 peak – the maximum amount of oxygen the body could receive during exercise. can use.
They were then given 400 mg of a cocoa flavanol supplement or a placebo daily for seven days before participating in more tests to determine how long it takes for oxygen to be delivered to meet exercise demands.
The shorter the response, the better able you are to perform a particular exercise.
Those given the flavanol supplement reduced this response time from about 40 seconds to 34, which researchers say was key because it “exceeds the minimum physiologically relevant change” of about 5 seconds.
However, the scientists said that if you really want to reap the benefits of cocoa flavanol, eating a chocolate bar before hitting the weights isn’t the best way to go about it.
Instead, they recommend consuming a shake with one and a half tablespoons of cocoa, as natural cocoa powder contains an average of 34.6 mg per gram of flavanol.
In comparison, the average milk chocolate bar contains 0.73 mg per gram and the dark chocolate about 1.156 mg per gram.
Flavanols are a group of chemical compounds found in many different food products, including green tea, muscadine grapes, dark chocolate (pictured), blueberries, and wine
Simon Marwood, associate professor of sports science at Liverpool Hope University, said: the times: ‘It is preferable to take supplements over eating dark chocolate, as potential beneficial effects of cocoa flavanols occur during exercise when high doses are consumed – more than 400 mg of flavanols – and because dark chocolate contains fat and sugar that enhance the beneficial potential of any bioactive constituents.’
He said consuming cocoa flavanol supplements could also be a way to encourage people to stick to a new exercise regimen.
“One barrier to starting an exercise plan is poor fitness in the first place, perhaps because of the discomfort associated with what would otherwise be light exercise,” Marwood said.
“Without frequent exercise, aging results in a slowdown in the rate at which our oxygen consumption increases at the start of exercise.”
He said this slowing of the increase in oxygen consumption has a negative effect on a person’s ability to tolerate exercise.
Earlier this year, researchers in the US found that cocoa flavanols may also boost the memory capacity of older people between the ages of 50 and 75.
Previous research has already linked a higher dietary intake of flavonols with a reduced risk of developing dementia – the ongoing decline in brain functioning.
Other studies have attributed flavanols to reducing the inflammation associated with heart disease and reducing the chances of dangerous blood clots.
They are also said to help control diabetes and high blood pressure.
The new research is published in the journal European Journal of Applied Physiology.
A LOVELY DEAL! MILK CHOCOLATE CAN BE MADE WITH THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF DARK CHOCOLATE
For years we have been told that dark chocolate is better for us. But scientists have good news – they’ve found a way to make milk chocolate healthier (File photo)
For years we have been told that dark chocolate is better for us. But scientists have found a way to make milk chocolate healthier.
Dark chocolate, which usually has a more bitter taste, contains phenolic compounds that can act as antioxidants.
It has anti-inflammatory properties and may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
In 2020, US government researchers figured out how to incorporate these benefits into milk chocolate by adding peanut husk extract—usually left over when peanut butter and candy are made.
This increases the antioxidant content while preserving the sweet taste and creamy texture of the chocolate.
The team at the US Agricultural Research Service ground the peels into a powder, extracted the phenolic compounds and combined it with a food additive.
Adding the peanut shells to milk chocolate could provide the same wellness boost at a fraction of the cost of dark chocolate, which is more expensive than milk varieties due to the higher cocoa content.
Lisa Dean, lead researcher on the project, said: ‘Dark chocolate is considered healthier because it contains many compounds called polyphenols.
‘These compounds are also responsible for the bitter taste.
‘Dark chocolate also contains less cocoa fat and sugar than milk chocolate.
‘Most people prefer milk chocolate because it’s sweeter, not bitter. It also melts more easily in the mouth and has a more pleasant ‘mouth feel’.
‘Dark chocolate has a hard texture and melts at a higher temperature.
“This product has the potential to provide consumers with the same level of polyphenols as dark chocolate, but without the less desirable properties.
‘Peanut skins are very cheap because they are usually just pelleted for animal feed or dumped in landfills.
“There are already some patents for the use of nut shells, including peanut shells as a food ingredient, owned by Mars, Inc.
“If a processor wanted to scale up the process and use the ingredient, it could one day show up in stores.”
Many of the taste testers even preferred milk chocolate with the peanut extract added.