Sure, chocolate is a delicious treat, and it’s a staple of some of our favourite 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 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 ten 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 ten 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 KitKats.)
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!
Now, we’re not saying 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.