If you're looking for a reason to eat chocolates but find conflicting answers as to whether it is good or bad for you, you're not alone. A team of researchers from Italy combined the current literature on chocolate's benefits and found that the sweet treat may, in fact, have positive benefits on cognitive performance.
Chocolates And Cognition
It's easy to be confused with the numerous results from scientific studies, especially regarding some things that we encounter every day, or in chocolate's case, something that we want to encounter every day. Fortunately, researchers from Italy gathered and reviewed the current studies on the benefits of eating chocolate and found quite promising results.
The study published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition focuses on chocolate's capability to enhance cognition, driven by the rising interest in preventing age-related cognitive decline. In this matter, researchers reviewed the current evidence suggesting that apart from the cardiovascular benefits that can be derived from the flavonoids in cocoa products, flavonoids may also yield positive results in various cognitive domains.
According to the team's review, the short-term effects of cocoa on one's cognition may include enhancement of working memory and improvement in visual processing. Further, eating cocoa showed to be promising in counteracting the effects of sleep deprivation among women.
Two specific studies in the team's current review further shows the potential short-term benefits of consuming cocoa. Specifically, in one study, researchers then found that chocolate drinks with a significant amount of flavanols significantly improved the working memory performance of the participants.
Similarly, another study found improvements in accuracy measure, working memory task, performance improvements, and visual function among young participants merely two hours after cocoa flavanol intake.
One of the studies that researchers reviewed involved middle-aged participants who were subjected to a 30-day administration of cocoa flavanols. As it turns out, prolonged administration of cocoa flavanols improved the participants' cognition.
Similarly, at risk populations subjected to the 30-day cocoa flavanol test yielded promising results with improved cerebrovascular function after the 30-day period. What's more, a three-month intervention with 900 milligrams of cocoa flavanols proved useful in increasing cerebral blood volume in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is associated with memory decline.
In a similar three-month cocoa flavanol test, older participants who were given a higher intake of cocoa flavanols showed higher global cognition scores as opposed to the participants who were given a much lower dosage.
All in all, the team's literature review shows how regular cocoa flavanols can improve, enhance, and even protect human cognition, especially among the older population. Although they believe that the body of research correlating human cognition to cocoa flavanols to be in its preliminary stages, its results are promising enough to encourage further investigation.
That's not saying that chocolate must comprise a large part of our daily diet, but perhaps the current body of research may be enough to help people enjoy their cocoa cravings more, knowing that the sweet treat isn't just delicious but heart and brain friendly as well.