When it comes to dessert foods, chocolate is basically the reigning king.
It’s hard to find something that tastes as specifically sweet and rich like quality chocolate does. Whether we’re talking about a decadent chocolate cake, fudgy brownies or just a simple cocoa truffle. Still, there are plenty of people who think that chocolate is something you can only have as a sweet treat—or worse, it’s something to avoid altogether. As it turns out, that old wisdom might not be true at all.
Chocolate lovers, prepare for some good news: chocolate may actually be good for you.
According to a study published in Frontiers in Nutrition, eating chocolate regularly may actually have significant health benefits.
The study was conducted by a group of Italian scientists and examined a wide range of literature on the effects of cocoa flavanols on different aspects of brain function. Though the research is still relatively limited, the trend of these studies showed that the people who ate cocoa flavanols regularly had improved working memory and improved visual performance as well!
Still, the specifics of each different study they looked at were pretty interesting.
As just one example, one of the studies looked specifically at women who had sleep deprivation.
Though nobody likes to feel exhausted or tired, what you may not know is that feeling that way can actually cause cognitive impairment as well. What the study showed was that women who were on a diet high in cocoa flavanols could actually reverse that cognitive impairment, no matter how much sleep they’d gotten the night before! Though all of these results come with the caveat that participants had been eating these flavanols for five days to three months continuously, the results are still promising.
Though different age ranges had different outcomes, everything is looking good for chocolate lovers!
Still, there are obviously a couple of asterisks attached to stories like this one.
To begin with, not all chocolate is created equal. Though it might be tasty to only eat Mars bars or cheap Hershey’s chocolate, the added fat, milk and sugar is likely not to do your body any favors. To add to that, the scientist had their own statement on the results:
“There are potential side effects of eating cocoa and chocolate. Those are generally linked to the caloric value of chocolate, some inherent chemical compounds of the cocoa plant such as caffeine and theobromine, and a variety of additives we add to chocolate such as milk and sugar.”
Based on what the research says so far, the flavanols have specific properties that speed up brain function.
Once again, the scientists in the study had some specific treatments about this:
“If you look at the underlying mechanism, the cocoa flavanols have beneficial effects for cardiovascular health and can increase cerebral blood volume in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. This structure is particularly affected by aging and therefore the potential source of age-related memory decline in humans.”
Though there’s definitely more research to be done, this all suggests that a life-long chocolate habit may be the way to go!
As always, we suggest that you take this study with a grain of salt—or a grain of sugar, in this case.
If you’re going to follow this advice to the letter, make sure you can get the freshest, highest quality dark chocolate that you can get your hands on. No matter how tempted you are to eat the cheaper junk food varieties, just know that you’re not going to see the same benefits as these scientists. On the other hand, if you want to eat a few squares of dark chocolate in the morning alongside a balanced breakfast, we say go for it!
Enjoy your prolonged brain health, chocolate lovers!
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