In case you needed an excuse to tuck into a rich, chocolate dessert, studies show that chocolate may actually improve your brain function.
In news that will bring joy and vindication to chocoholics everywhere, an article by Dr Robert H. Schmerling, published in a Harvard Medical School health publication, outlines the reasons why this may be the case, with numerous studies over time linking chocolate to health.
Schmerling points out that while findings of a 2012 study that shows that areas with a higher chocolate consumption have the most Nobel prize recipients may just be coincidence, it is possible that chocolate, or ingredients found in chocolate may have an impact on intelligence and other areas of brain function.
An article published recently in Frontiers in Nutrition found that flavanols, a compound found in cocoa, dark chocolate and other foods, may assist brain function. As a form of flavonoids, flavanols may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
There have been several studies which indicated that adults consuming large amounts of flavanols had better memory performance and reaction times than those who weren’t, and other studies found evidence of improved brain blood flow, oxygen levels, or nerve function after the consumption of cocoa drinks.
While more research is definitely needed to determine whether chocolate does indeed have any significant benefits, the studies so far are encouraging. Flavanols can be found in other fruits and vegetables too, including apples, red grapes, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, beans, kale, and onions.
Schmerling also reminds us that not all chocolate is created equal, and that chocolate with higher cocoa content contains more flavanols. This means that white chocolate and milk chocolate may not have the same benefits that a cocoa-rich dark chocolate might.
We’re certain it won’t stop anyone treating themselves, after all, everything in moderation.
This article originally appeared on Starts at 60.