Chocolate Boosts Memory and Concentration
We read a lot of news that reports on healthy behaviors and habits. Most of the time it’s depressing, because you know you aren’t doing many of them.
So when you hear about something you’re already doing, you feel pretty good about it. But wouldn’t it be crazy if that behavior was something you considered a guilty pleasure?
If you eat chocolate, then get ready for some excellent news. Chocolate boosts memory and concentration.
Chocolate Increases Cognitive Abilities
Chocolate has been found to have a positive influence on our cardiovascular health, but less research has been done on how chocolate affects the brain.
A recent study, published in the journal Appetite, finds that it boosts a number of cognitive functions. It was also one of the first studies to take a look at the long term effects of eating chocolate on a regular basis.
The researchers looked at data on around 1,000 individuals that had been tracked for 30 years. The data was part of a larger study named the Maine-Syracuse Longitundinal Study (MSLS).
An author of the study, Georgina Crichton, explains a bit about her research:
We examined whether habitual chocolate intake was associated with cognitive function (brain function – memory, concentration, reasoning, information processing), in nearly 1,000 individuals in the MSLS and found that those who ate chocolate at least once per week (or more), performed better on multiple cognitive tasks, compared to those who ate chocolate less than once per week.
So what are some of the specific brain functions were associated with better performance?
Subjects had better abstract reasoning, visual-spatial memory and organization, and attention when scanning and tracking objects.
This can translate into real world differences in our daily life. We can better recall things on our list, the name of the person we just met, or even handling multiple tasks at once.
Do Smart People Just Like Chocolate?
You could easily say that people with better cognitive function preferred to eat more chocolate. Maybe better brains just prefer chocolate. So they decided to run a second analysis.
However, when the scientists looked at data from the earliest parts of the study, they didn’t see an association between cognitive ability and the preference for chocolate-y treats.
While this doesn’t outright prove causality, it certainly points in the direction that chocolate can benefit the brain.
What About Other Factors?
The researchers also looked for other factors that might be causing the enhanced brain performance. When they accounted for different lifestyle or dietary factors, the effect remained.
Georgina from the study explains:
This means that irrespective of factors including age, sex, education, cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, total energy and alcohol intake, the relationship between chocolate intake and cognition remained significant.
Benefit From Moderation
Scientists are still trying to nail down the exact reasons why chocolate might have this effect. They mostly suspect it’s because of the cocoa flavanols. Which seems to be backed up by other studies looking at the phenomenon.
As you might expect, eating tons of chocolate isn’t going to make you Einstein. They noticed the effect for people who ate chocolate at least once a week or more. As opposed to those who rarely ate chocolate or not at all.
If you overdue your chocolate consumption, you can expect it to have a negative effect. For both your health and your brain.
So enjoy in moderation. And know it’s one of those rare guilty pleasures that also does your brain good.