In a small study performed by Dr. Farzaneh Sorond of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, lucky volunteers participated in a three month study to see whether a diet high in an antioxidant, called flavanol would lead to an improvement in memory. The best part was the delivery method – two cups of hot chocolate a day! After thirty days on the diet the participants scored 30% higher on memory and problem-solving tests.
This is just one of several studies that link cocoa flavanols with better memory. Another by Columbia University found that participants aged 50 to 69 performed as if they were two to three decades younger on memory tests after only 30 days.
And a study at Northumbrian University suggests that chocolate may help the brain contend with mentally challenging tasks. Not only were the participants in this study able to perform better at math problems, they also felt less fatigued than the control group.
Wait! Don’t go rushing out to gorge yourself on chocolate just yet! The second study involved a supplement that would equate to seven average sized bars of dark chocolate a day. And the most promising flavanol, epicatechin, may not be present at all in milk chocolate. However flavanols are also present in fruits, vegetables and other sources like tea.
“The more fruit and vegetables and things that are high in polyphenols the better that is for your brain in the long run” – Professor David Kennedy, co-author of Northumbria University study.
So, chocolate with its high sugar and calorie content is not a wonder brain supplement and it is likely to do more harm than good. But if you enjoy a healthy diet and are in good health, a small bar or cup of hot chocolate every now and then might be a memory boosting treat. Just remember not to overdue it!
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