No, you’re not dreaming. You’re not hallucinating. You read that title right: evidence now shows that eating chocolate can help you crunch some numbers.
Researchers in Britain are suggesting that the flavanols in chocolate are lending themselves to the completion of difficult mental tasks. Flavanols are part of a group of micronutrients called polyphenols that increase the amount of blood flow to the brain. Polyphenols have antioxidant properties and have been studied in recent years to help prevent cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. No wonder everyone is saying chocolate is so good for you!
Researches looked at 30 volunteers who were given a hot cocoa drink and then asked to count backwards in groups of three from a random number between 800 and 999. Not only were the volunteers able to complete it with more ease, but they were not as tired, both physically and mentally. Yet, when the volunteers were given a different task, the results faltered. When the number of groups changed from three to seven, an even more difficult task, those being tested could not complete it as quickly or accurately. This task uses a slightly different portion of the brain, making researchers believe that maybe the flavanols are attracted to particular portions of the brain. The researchers gave the volunteers a total of 500mg of flavanol.
But this isn’t the first time chocolate has been more beneficial for the body than just sweetening up your day. Dark chocolate has been proven to help with cardiovascular and digestive health. Dark chocolate also has more flavanols in it than milk chocolate, making it your go-to if you’re facing a particularly difficult task. This is because it has the highest proportion of cocoa in relation to milk as opposed to, say, white chocolate (which isn’t even actual chocolate FYI).
Another study looked at people who ate 1.4 ounces (a little less than a standard Hershey bar) of chocolate every day for two weeks. After those two weeks, researchers took blood and urine samples and noticed that the subjects had decreased levels of the stress hormones cortisol and catecholamines. Although that’s something I could have told you without the hassle of a study, I’m glad there’s scientific evidence to back up my addiction.
So what does this mean for all of us chocolate enthusiasts? Don’t stock up on candy quite yet. Flavanol also occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables, so don’t forgo an apple in favor of a chocolate bar – unless absotutely necessary.
Moderation should also always be practiced, otherwise, you can cancel out any added health benefits due to the added calories. However, when some chocolate bars come with as much as 100g of flavanol, it may not be as bad of a treat as initially thought.
This research also pointed to chocolate’s role in assisting in the retention of information before tests. If you listen closely, you can hear the celebration of college students everywhere. More studies still need to be conducted, but for now, we’re pretty psyched about these findings. So get those polyphenols in, just don’t forget your fruits and veggies!
And trust us, we can think of plenty of ways to get those doses of flavanol.
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What’s your favorite way to get all these chocolate health benefits?