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Question Your World: Can Chocolate Really Impact The Brain?

In a recent study some researchers looked into all of the information that’s available regarding the impacts of chocolate on the human brain. To dig into this sweet-science topic let’s ask a big question: Can chocolate really impact the brain? Listen to this Question Your World radio report produced by the Science Museum of Virginia to learn more.

Sometimes science encourages taking away pleasurable things like an all pizza diet, sleeping all day, or the 48 hour nachos challenge. However, sometimes it works in our favor especially when science gives you the thumbs up on tasty treats. Recently some researchers reviewed all the available literature and peer-reviewed articles on the short and long term benefits of eating chocolate on the human brain. The news is both awesome and delicious!

The cocoa bean is rich in flavonols, a type of natural compound that has many neuroprotective effects! Meaning, it’s good for your brain. In a short term study participants who ate cocoa flavanols showed a more functional memory and improved visual processing. Some of these reports even indicated that some women could even combat the effects of sleep deprivation and cary on better at work the next day if they had some dark chocolate after waking up. These are the impacts of these natural compounds on the human brain after just a few short hours of consumption.

Long term consumption of cocoa flavanols was mainly tested on elderly individuals. Here cognitive performance was noticeably improved due to a daily intake of cocoa flavonols. Also the ability to pay attention, process information, a better working memory, and verbal fluency were all other enhancements that were noticed too! Especially in older adults that had some mild cognitive impairments already. Keep in mind that the oldest woman to ever live, Jeanne Calment, cliamed that dark chocolate was a stable part of her diet. Cocoa flavonols won't make you live to be 122, but there's starting to be a lot of support behind the many benefits of chocolate consumption on the human body.

Now, we’re not saying go out and eat all the chocolate in the world. There are issues with caffeine, added sugars, dairy, and a myriad of other chemical compounds, but a little bit of dark chocolate being added to one’s diet could help enhance and protect our brain. So perhaps the most balanced diet does actually involve holding a few pieces of chocolate in both hands.