More Good News About Chocolate

Research confirms chocolate is a “superfood” for mental rejuvenation.

Posted May 11, 2018

DWilliams/Pixabay, used with permission.
Source: DWilliams/Pixabay, used with permission.

Dark chocolate is well established as a good source of flavonoids, antioxidants that can lower your blood pressure, protect your heart health and improve insulin resistance. In recent years, cocoa flavonoids have also been linked to improved cognition and decreased risk of dementia. Now, two studies presented at the April 2018 Experimental Biology annual meeting by researchers from Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center suggest that eating dark chocolate containing at least 70% cacao can also reduce stress and improve both memory and mood, all the while reducing inflammation and boosting immunity. And the higher the concentration of cacao, the better the benefits.

These studies represent the first human trials to use electroencephalography (EEG) testing to look at what happens in the brain when someone eats dark chocolate. They also measured how much dark chocolate one needs to eat in order to reap benefits. They found that eating 48 grams (about 1½ to 1¾ ounces) of chocolate composed of 70% cacao and 30% organic cane sugar helped boost factors associated with improved immunity and anti-inflammatory activity on a cellular level and also enhance neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to “rewire,” or adapt to new conditions and changes by reorganizing cellular connections throughout life.

Future studies will deepen the researchers’ knowledge about the actual mechanism by which dark chocolate provides so many benefits and will also test the results on larger populations, which, in turn, could help experts provide more specific recommendations. Meanwhile, before you indulge in a giant chocolate bar, remember that 1¾ ounces of dark chocolate weighs in at 297 calories and 21 grams of fat. For anyone who is watching their blood sugar, that’s also 23 grams of carbs and 12 grams of sugar (and, thankfully, 5 grams of fiber). Be sure to eat chocolate in the context of an otherwise balanced diet. And keep in mind that most fresh fruits and vegetables are also good sources of flavonoids, and have also been linked to the same physical and mental health benefits.

References

Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center. "Dark chocolate consumption reduces stress and inflammation: Data represent first human trials examining the impact of dark chocolate consumption on cognition and other brain functions." ScienceDaily, 24 April 2018. Retreived May 2, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180424133628.htm

Socci V, Tempesta D, Giovambattista D, et al. Enhancing human cognition with cocoa flavonoids. Frontiers in Nutrition. Published online May 16, 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5432604/

Giovambattista D, Kwik-Uribe C, Grassi D. et al. Benefits in cognitive function, blood pressure, and insulin resistance through cocoa flavanol consumption in elderly subjects with mild cognitive ipairment. The Cocoa, Cognition, and Aging (CoCoA) study. Hypertension. First published August 15, 2012; 60(3):794-801.http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/60/3/794

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