Another Reason to Eat Chocolate
With the holidays approaching, there are going to be more tempting sweets available than usual. The good news is that eating dark chocolate might actually improve how your brain works.
The consumption of chocolate and cocoa linked to cardiovascular benefits is well established. Now analysis of data for 968 individuals from 23 to 98 years of age suggests that eating chocolate regularly is associated with positive cognitive performance as well.
Study participants completed a dietary questionnaire to indicate how often they ate a variety of foods (including chocolate): never, seldom, once a week, 2 to 4 times a week, 5 or 6 times a week, or once or more each day. Using a battery of standardized tests investigators then assessed various aspects of participants’ cognitive function, including visual-spatial memory and organization, abstract verbal reasoning, and overall cognitive functioning.
Analysis showed that scores for most aspects of cognitive function rose with the level of chocolate intake, regardless of other dietary habits. Even after investigators adjusted these findings for demographic and other factors, most of these positive associations remained.
But before you reach for that chocolate bar, keep in mind that though this study did not ascertain what types of chocolate participants ate, earlier research indicates that flavanols (naturally occurring phytochemical compounds found in high concentrations in a variety of plant-based foods) that are most abundant in the dark variety of chocolate likely account for this food’s beneficial effects.
In the future, researchers suggest there be “longer-term clinical trials to shed further insight into this association between chocolate,” cocoa flavanols, and neuropsychological health. They’re also interested to see how the amounts of chocolate people eat affects cognition, and the effects of when foods high in flavonoids are consumed in combination.
We take a holistic approach to your health and consider your diet, exercise and nutrition to be just as important as the chiropractic treatment we provide in our office. If a regular intake of dark chocolate has beneficial effects on cognitive function and can possibly even protect against normal age-related cognitive decline, then we plan to enjoy that chocolate treat this holiday season and tell ourselves we’re simply doing it to improve your brain.