Chocolate-lovers, here is a good news for you! Eating chocolate at least once a week might enhance cognition, according to a new study published in the journal Appetite.
The potential health benefits of chocolate are being documented by an increasing body of research. It has usually been associated with protecting the health of the heart. Now, it is even said to boost cognitive function.
The association between brain health and chocolate is not well-documented, says lead author, Dr. Georgie Crichton from the Nutritional Physiology Research Centre at the University of South Australia. Dr Crichton and his team wanted to determine the effects of habitual consumption on cognitive performance.
Data from a study spanning over 968 people in the age group 23-98 years old was examined. It is to be noted that all participants were free of dementia. The 30-year-period chocolate consumption of these individuals was analysed.
Then, their cognitive function was evaluated: they were tested with respect to visual-spatial memory and organisation, verbal memory (ability to recall words), and scanning and tracking (the ability to concentrate on particular objects).
The results show that those consuming chocolate at least one time per week had a significantly better performance in all the tests as opposed to those who would never eat chocolate, or only rarely. After taking other factors into consideration (like age, sex, blood pressure), the link remained, except concerning working memory.
The team explained their findings in terms of the contents of chocolate: cocoa contains flavanols which are known to ease blood flow to the brain, and the presence of caffeine in small amounts might boost alertness.
Furthermore, surprisingly, these effects might not be restricted to dark chocolate. Dr Crichton says that the participants consumed a variety of the types of chocolate such as dark, milk, and white chocolate.
On the other hand, the other side of the coin should not be disregarded: chocolate also contains fats and sugar which are linked with other health concerns like weight gain, and diabetes. But, the findings suggest that eating chocolate in moderation might be beneficial. The team, therefore, recommends a small intake of chocolate once or twice per week.