Sure, chocolate is a delicious treat, and it’s a staple of some of our favorite desserts. But it’s not exactly a health food, so it should be enjoyed in moderation—right?
Well, it turns out that eating chocolate might actually have a pretty significant health benefit. According to recent research conducted by five scientists in Italy, compounds found in chocolate, called flavanols, can help boost cognitive performance. Yup, chocolate’s good for your brain.
The scientists, studying at the Universities of Rome and L’Aquila, compiled research from 10 different studies. The studies assessed people’s performance on cognitive tests before and after eating cocoa or chocolate. The results were pretty telling: in nine out of the 10 studies, there was a noticeable improvement after the subjects had eaten the chocolate. The scientists found improvements in “general cognition, attention, processing speed, and working memory.” Sounds pretty good to us!
And that’s not all. In subjects, especially women, who performed the tests while sleep-deprived, the flavanols helped “counteract” the negative effects of the sleep deprivation. And there’s even more good news. The researchers also found that eating chocolate daily (over periods ranging from five days to three months) produced noticeable long-term improvements in cognition. Older adults, whose memories were already declining, saw an especially significant improvement. Be right back, we’re gonna go stock up on Hershey bars. Here are some more strategies that can help improve your memory.
All chocolate has flavanols, since they occur naturally in cocoa. However, dark chocolate lovers, rejoice, because it has more flavanols than any other type of chocolate. In fact, the scientists themselves have claimed that, after doing this research, they’ve started eating dark chocolate every day! Here are some other health benefits of eating dark chocolate. Now, we’re not saying that you should start eating chocolate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—it’s still high in sugar and low in nutrients. But next time you find yourself yawning after a sleepless night, snack on some chocolate and let the flavanols work their magic. Go ahead and take advantage of chocolate’s newfound brainpower with these delicious recipes.