The Health Benefits of Chocolate Now Include Improved Memory

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Most people don’t need any convincing when it comes to consuming chocolate. And in recent years, the health benefits of chocolate have been highlighted, making this “food of the gods” one of the preferred superfoods of us ordinary people as well.

Now, there’s new information on the health benefits of chocolate that just may make it more appealing, especially as we age. A study published in a recent issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience found that chocolate consumption can improve memory, particularly those memory skills that fade as we get older (like remembering if you recently ate chocolate).

“When healthy people between the ages of 50 and 69 drank a mixture high in cocoa flavanols for three months, they performed about 25% better on a memory test compared to a control group of participants,” reports PBS.

The study was funded by the chocolate manufacturer Mars along with the National Institute of Health and several other research foundations.

What the researchers noted was that the 37 subjects showed improved memory in part of the brain’s hippocampus, the dentate gyrus linked to short-term memory recall, such as what you ate for breakfast or where you left your keys.

“While the study supports the idea that cocoa flavanols help reverse age-related memory decline, it probably won’t ward off Alzheimer’s,” notes PBS. “The participants didn’t show any marked difference in the functioning of the entorhinal cortex, which is impaired in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The distinction shows that age-related and Alzheimer’s-related memory loss are not the same thing, and that flavanols won’t have an effect on cognitive disease.”

But don’t start gorging on your chocolate stash just yet. The study noted that you’d have to eat the equivalent of seven chocolate bars a day—a task for even the most die-hard chocoholic. That being said, there's certainly benefits in small amounts of pure dark chocolate, which doesn't contain milk or excessive amounts of sugar—not just for the memory, but for the heart, antioxidant protection and enhanced mood.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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Image: Amy Loves Yah

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