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Study Suggests Chocolate May Provide Brain Boost

This article appeared in the July 7, 2017 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

Study Suggests Chocolate May Provide Brain Boost

Cacao beans. Photo by Isai Symens.


By Lisa Justice

Special to the Enterprise


It’s sweet, rich, melty and immensely satisfying, but few of us eat as much chocolate as we would like. We think of it as being high in calories and low in nutritional value.


But according to a study published in Frontiers in Nutrition on June 29, 2017 it may be time to rethink our avoidance of chocolate. Italian researchers from the University of L’Aquila reviewed the relevant literature on studies concerning the potential health benefits of chocolate discovered that chocolate likely has beneficial effects for the brain.


Cocoa beans are rich in flavanols, naturally occurring chemical compounds known to have neuroprotective properties. The studies under review indicated that the flavanols in chocolate boosted memory, enhanced visual information processing and even counteracted the effects of sleep deprivation.


Another study indicated that chocolate consumption eased memory loss and improved verbal fluency in elderly participants who had already exhibited some mild cognitive impairment.


Unfortunately none of these benefits mitigate the fat and calorie content of the sugar, milk and other additives that frequently accompany chocolate. Dark chocolate is a healthier choice than milk chocolate, and the higher the cocoa content, the more flavanols you get.


So go ahead and slip a melty square of chocolate goodness into your s’mores this summer. Remember--it could be good for your brain.



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