Good news for your sweet tooth! According to a recent study, eating chocolate at least once a week can increase your cognitive ability. It’s true, you have the permission to get up and go eat some chocolate!
In ancient times chocolate was used as medicine to “reduce fever, treat childhood diarrhea, promote strength before sexual conquests, decrease ‘female complaints’, increase breast-milk production, encourage sleep and helps to clean the teeth.” However, this new research is different. Read on to find out what makes chocolate a super-food for the BRAIN.
How Chocolate Changes Our Cognitive Ability
The study done at the Main-Syracuse Longitudinal center by Merrill Elias studied over 1,000 people: the researchers used a number of different cognitive tests on people who never or rarely ate chocolate and gave the same tests to those who ate chocolate at least once a week. The people who regularly ate chocolate scored better on cognitive exams and carried out simple tasks such as remembering phone numbers with greater success.
“We found that people who eat chocolate at least once a week tend to perform better cognitively,” said Elias. “It’s significant – it touches a number of cognitive domains. The key benefits of eating chocolate once a week increased “visual-spatial memory, working memory, scanning and tracking, abstract reasoning, and the mini-mental state examination.”
While the research suggests that they don’t know exactly what the relationship between chocolate and cognitive ability is, they do know that there’s something special going on here.
Flavonols Increase The Brain’s Power
What science does know about chocolate is that it’s full of flavonols. Flavonols are found naturally in cocoa, which chocolate is made from, and they seem to have a positive effect on people’s brains. Many studies have found that intaking flavonols can reduce the effects of age on cognitive ability and memory. This study tested 90 elderly people over an 8 week period and on an average the people who ingested high levels of flavonols completed tests they were given faster.
Another study from 2010 found that flavonols increase the brain’s power. It’s thought that flavonols, like coffee and tea, increase blood flow to the brain, and therefore improve it’s cognitive ability.
Some Chocolates Are Better
This is not to suggest that everyone should stop what they’re doing and shove chocolate bars down their throats. Chocolate is still full of sugars, which is currently the bane of the nutrient world. However, now there seems to be a good reason to eat some chocolate occasionally.
However, now there seems to be a good reason to eat some chocolate occasionally. Dark chocolate is higher in flavonols and lower in sugar than milk chocolate, so it surely is the better option. At most grocery stores, you can find dark chocolate that has up to 90% cocoa. That’s almost pure chocolate! Since flavonols are naturally occurring in cocoa, it stands to reason that the higher the percentage of chocolate you’re eating, the better it is for your brain.
Go buy some dark chocolate and enjoy. Don’t take it from me, take it from a scientist, Merill Elias says “I think what we can say for now is that you can eat small amounts of chocolate without guilt if you don’t substitute the chocolate for a normal balanced healthy diet.”