File this under "We knew it all along": Turns out that eating chocolate is good for your brain. And that's not just because all that deliciousness makes you happy, and being happy is good (duh). A new study shows that eating chocolate improves brain function and can help put the brakes on age-related cognitive decline.
The Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study, published in the journal Appetite and reported in the Independent, looked at 968 people ages 23-98. The data shows that cocoa flavanols (a subgroup of the flavanoid compounds present in chocolate) have measurable benefits for the brain. And here's the best part: The link was found to be strongest in people who eat chocolate on a regular basis. The data bolsters findings from an earlier study on the elderly.
"Habitual chocolate intake was related to cognitive performance, measured with an extensive battery of neuropsychological tests. More frequent chocolate consumption was significantly associated with better performance...," the new report in Appetite noted. Since flavonoids are more prevalent in dark chocolate, you'll want to lean that way in your chocolate binges.
The best news is: This isn't the only health benefit associated with chocolate. The study points to other historic links: "Few other natural products have been purported to have as many medicinal benefits as chocolate. From very early times to the present day, chocolate has been used to reduce fever, treat childhood diarrhoea, promote strength before sexual conquests, decrease ‘female complaints’, increase breast-milk production, encourage sleep and to clean teeth."
Fascinating. And if you keep track of studies like this, you also know that chocolate has been lauded for its antioxidant and cardiovascular qualities, among others (although some sources call B.S. on the vaunted antioxidant effect).
All we know is, we'll be eating chocolate no matter what. Now we'll just eat even MORE of it.
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