Brain Boosts by Cocoa
The saga of “is chocolate good for you” continues. This time we have some good news to share, the flavanols in chocolate boosts your cognition! Combing through previous literature, researchers found that there was improved visual information processing after consumption of cocoa. For the women reading, if you had a tough night sleeping and are suffering sleep deprivation the next day, cocoa actually counteracts the sleep deprivation.
Of course, there were some aspects to take into consideration such as length and mental load of the cognitive tests used, but in the short term cocoa boasted positive outcomes. When looking at long term ingestion, defined anywhere from five days to three months, cognitive performance improved in the elderly who were beginning to experience memory decline. Combine this knowledge with dark chocolate’s stress-reducing capabilities and enhanced sports performance, and a healthy dose a cocoa may not be such a bad thing after all!
Flavanols, as a subgroup of flavonoids, are the type of antioxidants found in cocoa. Cocoa flavanols have been found to lower blood pressure and maintain blood vessel health. Flavanols, however, won’t necessarily be listed on the food label of the chocolate bar, but when you see percentages on the package, that is your best indicator. That is why dark chocolate typically contains 45-80% cocoa solids in comparison to milk chocolate at 5-7%, making dark chocolate the better choice. Of course, how much chocolate consumed remains cautionary due to the caloric and fat content, but in this case a little goes a long way.
Not a chocolate fan? Flavanols can be found in many healthy foods such as apples, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, greens and many other fruits and vegetables. While this study did not particularly explore cognition factors with these food sources, you can certainly reap the benefits by adding a variety of flavanols into your diet.
Craving chocolate now? Try the Black Magic Banana Cupcakes for a healthy take with the added benefits of improved brain power with unsweetened cocoa.
Published August 1, 2017