Birth, Babies, and Beyond

Pregnancy, birth, and parenting

Why Chocolate Makes You Smart (or Peaceful)

Eat chocolate and up your odds of getting a Nobel prize, study says.

I am fairly certain that recently—sometime in the past year or so—I read a study that showed that people believe studies that confirm their suspicions and we find faults in studies that poke holes in our assumptions. So, here’s a study that I think has to be true, even if the author wrote it a bit facetiously: According to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, if you eat a lot of chocolate, you up your chances of getting a Nobel Prize. The point is that chocolate makes you smarter. (Unless, you are going for the Nobel Peace prize and then chocolate makes you nicer.)

According to the findings of Dr. Franz H. Messerli, cardiologist and director of Clinical Hypertension with St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospital, “There was a close significant linear correlation (r=0.791, P,0.0001) between chocolate consumption per capita and the number of Nobel Laureates per 10 million persons in a total of 23 countries.”

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

His study is brilliant. Given the assumption that chocolate has a flavonoids and flavonoids have been tentatively linked to increased brain functioning (it’s a substance also in red wine and fruit, but do we really need another fruit-is-good-for-you-study?), he compared national chocolate consumption to the number of Nobel Laureates per capital and found this: A direct correlation between the amount of chocolate, measured in kilograms, compared with the number of Laureates, measured in people per 10 million population.We all know that correlation means X is linked to Y, that it does not necessarily prove that one thing causes the other. Whatever.

In any event, Sweden was an outlier. “Given its per capita consumption of 6.4 kg per year, we would predict that Sweden should have produced a total of 14 Nobel Laureates, yet we observe 32.” Messerli suspects one of two things: 1. bias on the part of the judges who based in Sweden. Or 2. Swedes are hyper-sensitive to the cognitive enhancing aspects of chocolate. (I would go with the latter, something to do with the chocolate receptors on their brain neurons.) Messerli adds that as the “research is evolving,” the cumulative dose of chocolate needed to sufficiently up your odds of getting the Nobel is not yet known. Stay tuned. I’m waiting for a savvy statistician to correlate martini-drinkers with intelligence, or at least to happiness.

 Start Boosting Your Intelligence Now: Here's a Recipe for One-Bowl Brownies (dosage not included):

Force-Feeding My Daughter, Eliza, whipped cream and chocolate, you can't start too young


Randi Hutter Epstein, M.D., is the author of Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank.


Subscribe to Birth, Babies, and Beyond

Current Issue

Dreams of Glory

Daydreaming: How the best ideas emerge from the ether.