Long known to have potent effects on health, mainly due to the high antioxidant load, a study published in the recent issue of the journal Neuroscience & Behavior Reviews found inconclusive evidence between chocolate benefits and brain functioning or changes in mood.
According to Confectionary News, "while 'a few' observational and intervention studies appear to back suggestions that cocoa flavanols have beneficial effects on brain functioning and mood in the long term—evidence for any immediate effects of the compounds "remains limited and inconclusive, but warrants further research," noted study leader Alexander N. Sokolov from the University of Tubingen Medical School in Germany.
The team strongly suggests more research be done, particularly using brain imaging technology in order to best note the short-term and long-term effects of cocoa flavanols on the brain.
"Future research has to combine functional neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI, EEG and MEG with neuorcognitive and behavioral correlates to uncover long lasting and immediate effects of chocolate consumption on human cognition, mood and behavior," noted the team.
Cocoa has been regarded as the "love food" for its ability to enhance mood. Two of the chemicals in cocoa, theobromine and anandamine, have been noted for their impact on the brain, being credited with boosting mood. Anandamine is often referred to as "the bliss chemical" for reportedly inducing the same feelings as being in love.
Other cocoa benefits include immune support and purported anti-aging benefits to the skin due to the high concentration of antioxidants, as well as heart health benefits from the high levels of magnesium.
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