Do you want to feed your brain? You can do puzzles, read a book, or learn to play a new musical instrument or speak a foreign language. Or you can also have chocolate! Yes, that delectable treat that many cannot say no to is actually good for your brain, based on a recent scientific investigation.
According to the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study or MSLS, participants residing in Syracuse, New York who were regular chocolate eaters had better cognitive functioning compared to those who did not regularly consume the goodie. What’s more surprising is this: regardless of any other dietary habit, chocoholics participating in the said study fared better in tests designed to measure the overall performance of the brain.
Chocolate’s Good Rep
For a long time now, scientists know that chocolate is good for the brain as well as overall health. It’s because chocolate is made from cacao beans, which is loaded with beneficial antioxidants. Due to the high concentrations of those free radical-fighting molecules, chocolate offers an assortment of perks.
Going back to the study, the questionnaire handed to participants did not indicate the type of chocolate that they eat or not eat habitually. Milk, white, dark, etc. — it wasn’t looked into and it didn’t matter. However, it remained rather clear that those who consumed chocolate on a regular basis aced the given brain-functioning tests.
Of Caffeine and Theobromine
According to experts, most different types of chocolate share one thing in common, and that is all of them contain both caffeine and theobromine. Everyone is well-aware what caffeine is — it’s a chemical that is found in coffee, black tea, green tea, soda, and numerous sports and energy drinks. It’s also no secret that caffeine is a nervous system stimulant, hence the consumption of caffeinated beverages helps increase energy and alertness levels.
So what about theobromine? A bitter-tasting chemical naturally found in cacao beans, theobromine is said to have the same effects on the nervous system as caffeine. In other words, it’s something that can also give you an instant dose of energy as well as temporarily boost brain functioning. The funny thing about theobromine is it also makes you feel warm and fuzzy within. To put it simply, it makes you feel like you’re in love!
Dark is Better
If you really want to have your cognitive functioning boosted as well as enjoy that sensation of being in love, experts suggest for you to opt for dark chocolate. It all boils down to cocoa content. Dark chocolate consists of 30 to 70 percent cocoa. To give you a point of reference, milk chocolate packs only 7 to 15 percent cocoa.
When choosing your chocolate, there is no questioning that you should go for the dark kind. Having more cocoa in it means that you get to enjoy more of those antioxidants found naturally in cocoa beans. Furthermore, experts say that dark chocolate boasts of the most flavanols — plant pigments with superb antioxidant properties. By the way, it’s also possible for you to get flavanols from apples, grapes, red wine and tea.
Less Unwanted Ingredients
Since dark chocolate is mostly cocoa and has less sugar and other additives that are commonly found in other chocolate types, pleasing your sweet tooth with the dark-colored and slightly bitter treat should make you feel no guilt. It is exactly for this reason why you can often spot dark chocolate in so many listings of foods that are actually good for you.
In conclusion, dark chocolate can help enhance cognitive functioning as well as offer a bunch of other health benefits, from reducing stress, warding off excess pounds to lowering heart disease risk. However, it is still very important to bear in mind to consume dark chocolate in moderation.