A recent study by Australian nutrition researcher Georgina Crichton and her team linked weekly chocolate consumption to better brain function.
It analysed data generated by the huge Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study, which has tracked lifestyle factors and health outcomes of nearly 1,000 people for decades.
The research gathered all sorts of information about the dietary habits of the participants between 2001 and 2006.
The team compared scores on various cognitive tests of participants who reported eating chocolate less than once a week and those who reported eating it at least once a week.
They found “significant positive associations” between chocolate intake and cognitive performance.
“We found that people who eat chocolate at least once a week tend to perform better cognitively,” said Elias.
“It’s significant – it touches a number of cognitive domains.”
They did wonder if it was just that clever people like eating chocolate
But they decided that probably wasn’t responsible for the finding.
“It’s not possible to talk about causality, because that’s nearly impossible to prove with our design,” said Elias.
“But we can talk about direction. Our study definitely indicates that the direction is not that cognitive ability affects chocolate consumption, but that chocolate consumption affects cognitive ability.”
In short, eating chocolate appears to make your brain work better.
The findings were backed by a follow-up study which also confirmed that an increased chocolate consumption led to improved cognitive function.
Speaking to The Washington Post , Crichton explained how these functions translate to every day tasks, “such as remembering a phone number, or your shopping list, or being able to do two things at once, like talking and driving at the same time.”
But how does it work!?
Why exactly eating chocolate is associated with improved brain function Crichton can’t say with absolute certainty.
But some studies suggest nutrients called cocoa flavanols, which are found naturally in cocoa, and thus chocolate, seem to have a positive effect on people’s brains.
Chocolate, like both coffee and tea, also has methylxanthines, plant produced compounds that enhance various bodily functions.
A lot of previous research has shown that there are, or at least could be, immediate cognitive benefits from eating chocolate. But rarely, if ever, have researchers been able to observe the impact of habitual chocolate eating on the brain.
But before you go stuffing your face with chocolate, the study also warns that sweet treats should only be eaten in moderation.
“Of course chocolate intake should be considered within an overall healthy eating pattern,” Crichton said.