The Big M – Let’s talk about the Menopause with Natalie Elliot

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Chocolate has long been branded a naughty treat, bad for your health and is associated with weight gain. But a new study, published in the FASEB Journal, found that it actually could help women going through the menopause burn fat and decrease blood sugar levels.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in collaboration with the University of Murcia in Spain, noted that eating milk chocolate at a certain time of day can impact regulation of body weight.

The results showed that the effects of eating a concentrated amount of chocolate during this narrow window of time, disregards the caloric intake.

The two-week study conducted a controlled trial of 19 postmenopausal women who consumed 100g of chocolate in the morning within one hour after waking time or at night, within one hour before bedtime.

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Researchers then compared weight gain and many other measures to no chocolate intake.

Milk chocolate is notoriously rich in fat, sugar and calories.

They found that those who consumed chocolate in the morning and at night did not experience weight gain.

Eating chocolate in the morning, especially within an hour of waking, decreased a number of women’s hunger and cravings for sweet foods in general, largely because it lowered blood glucose levels.

It also positively impacted their sleep and led to increased fat burning and a boost in physical activity throughout the day.

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.”

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, which is responsible for stabilising moods.

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