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Eating Chocolate May Improve Cognitive Function

Previous studies have found a link between cocoa flavanols and cardiovascular benefits. Now a recent, long ranging study has found a link between regularly eating chocolate and improved cognitive function.

Participants in the study included 968 New York residents between the ages of 23 and 98. The study took place between 1975 and 2000. All of the participants completed a food frequency questionnaire, in which they reported their consumption of a range of different foods and beverages, including chocolate. Additionally, they all underwent neuropsychological tests in order to determine cognitive function.

After accounting for demographic and lifestyle factors, including age, education, and other health factors, the researchers determined that the participants who ate chocolate at least once a week performed significantly better on a range of tests than those who ate chocolate infrequently. These tests included global composite, visual-spatial memory and organization, working memory, scanning and tracking and abstract reasoning.

The researchers noted that the study did not differentiate between milk, white, or dark chocolate. However, since the majority of chocolate consumed in the United States is milk or dark, they concluded the association can be made between those types of chocolate and improved cognitive function. They did suggest that more research is needed to determine the exact correlation between both dark and milk chocolate and cognitive function.

Researchers from the University of South Australia, the University of Maine, and the Luxembourg Institute of Health conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 10, 2016, in the journal Appetite.

Most studies on the health benefits of chocolate have focused on dark chocolate, which has been linked with improved heart health and insulin resistance, as well as reduced blood pressure.

It’s important to keep in mind that excessive consumption of chocolate could negate the positive effects seen here and in other studies, as chocolate also has high fat, sugar, and calorie content. Your best bet is to eat small amounts of dark chocolate with high cocoa content.

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