So, our nutritional-research Hero Dr. Georgie Crichton & her intrepid team went back and examined a study called the MSLS on what people ate and drank over time.
And they found an interesting correlation between food and smarts.
One that worked -even after- factoring out many confounding variables…
Chocolate-Lovers Get Smart:
Across a population of 1,000 people in the study, it turned out that people who ate chocolate scored better than everyone else on a battery of different cognitive tests.
And the MSLS has 30 years of data to prove it!
What Does It Improve?:
This list of cognitive improvements includes (but might not be limited-to): Visual-Spatial Memory and Organization, Scanning and Tracking, Abstract Reasoning, Similarities, and something called a Mini-Mental State.
The only types of brain-function chocolate had no effect on: Working (ie: short-term) Memory, and Verbal Memory.
Almost Everybody Wins!:
Even better news? The factors that were ruled-out include several variables affecting large sections of the population.
So whatever your: Age, Sex, Education, Blood-Sugar, Blood-Pressure, Cholesterol-Levels, Consumption of Meat, Alcohol Consumption, and Total Calorie Intake,
-Chocolate will STILL help your brain!
Now if you’re here at HT, we know you want to delve a little deeper.
So the key questions really become:
How Much, How Often & What Kind?:
And unfortunately, this is where the researchers fall a little short.
All they know from the MSLS is people with the higher scores had ~some kind of chocolate, at least 1x a week.
Now from here, we can also guess that the More chocolate you get the better (without going over your calorie-limits). The benefits will probably slow/stop at a certain point of diminishing-returns.
Many many studies including that one, also suggest the Darker the chocolate you get the better.
So What’s Doing The “Fixing”, And What Is Being “Fixed”?:
And as far as specifics, we learned here that chocolate has antioxidants that are uncommonly good at getting into your bloodstream (thanks, gut bacteria!).
And also, researchers almost universally-agree that the flavonols in the cocoa are the likely sources of the benefits.
It may simply be down to just better circulation and less inflammation in your brain; 2 of the things flavonols are known for.
How Can We Do Even Better With This, Perhaps Like A Drug?:
The next level after this, of course is what the people at Mars and CocoaVia are doing.
-Isolating the darkest, most flavonol-packed parts of the cocoa & testing them in very-encouraging trials and then getting them out as a supplement or specially-formulated “candy” bar.
(in the meantime if you’re truly brave, you could just go down to the store & pick up a Lindt 90 -or even 99!- percent bar and do an experiment on yourself. -watch out, though!)
Photo Credits: “Cocoa”, by Flickr user Nestlé
• Source: U. South Australia
• via: Forbes
• Source Study: Appetite-Chocolate intake is associated with better cognitive function: The Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study