Chocolate improves brain function, finds new research

Cocoa consumption has been linked to improving memory, short-term cognitive function and counteracting cognitive decline, according to new research

Chocolate lovers of the world rejoice!

Consuming chocolate regularly has been found to help the brain function, thanks to cocoa being a rich source of natural neuroprotective compounds.

The useful antioxidant abundant compounds found in cocoa beans are called cocoa flavanols.

In a new review by Italian researchers, flavanol-rich cocoa consumption has been linked to improving memory, short-term cognitive function and counteracting cognitive decline.

“Acute administration of cocoa flavanols could result in immediate cognitive-enhancing effect, sustaining performance particularly in cognitively demanding conditions, including fatigue and sleep loss,” say authors Valentina Socci and Michele Ferrara, from the University of L'Aquila, Italy.

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis and found that the miracle flavanols have beneficial effects on the brain’s blood circulation and boost the speed of processing visual imagery.

“This result suggests the potential of cocoa flavanols to protect cognition in vulnerable populations over time by improving cognitive performance,” the authors say.

Having a chocolate-filled diet for a long period of time was also shown to improve the performance of older adults. For the elderly, long-term ingestion of cocoa has a pronounced effect on attention, verbal fluency and memory. The effects are even greater for elderly people who are already experiencing cognitive decline.

Cocoa flavanols have also been shown to improve blood flow to the heart, prevent blood clots and fight cell damage, according to Harvard Medical School. It should also be remembered that dark chocolate is a richer source of the beneficial flavanols than milk, with the amount ranging from 100-2,000 mg in 100 grams of dark chocolate.

It won’t be difficult to follow the lead of the Italian experts: “Dark chocolate is a rich source of flavanols. So we always eat some dark chocolate. Every day.”

Mothers will also be pleased to hear that eating chocolate after sleep deprivation improved cognitive function for women according to the study.

However the experts warn against the calorific side effects of indulging too much with chocolaty treats. We are well aware that while their high sugar and milk content may gratify the tastes, it isn't responsible for cocoa’s brain nourishing properties.

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