A 40-year study has made our dreams come true by revealing chocolate is good for our brains...
The cognitive benefits of eating oily fish and cod-liver oil capsules have long been proven, the only problem being that oily fish isn’t even nearly our favourite snack. Like, we enjoy eating it, but we’d much rather boost our brain power with something sweet and sugary and moreish, like, say…chocolate.
And what’s this we hear? The dark, sweet stuff is now thought to boost our brains and make us smarter! Looks like our prayers have well and truly been answered.
Yep, it turns out that those of us who eat chocolate once a week or more (we’re most deffs in that category) have improved memory and abstract thinking skills, according to a very comprehensive study spanning 40 years.
Researchers from the University of Maine and South Australia and a US psychologist, found that frequent chocolate consumption was ‘significantly associated’ with better performance on mental acumen tests, which analysed organisation, multi-tasking, abstract reasoning and visual-spatial memory.
The study was started in the 1970s by psychologist Merrill Elias who initially started tracking the cognitive abilities of more than 1000 people in New York. The original goal was to observe the relationship between people’s blood pressure and brain performance, but then Elias later decided to analyse people’s diets, including their chocolate consumption.
Scientists then added a new questionnaire to their data collection from 2001 and 2006 and discovered that the chocolate boosts brain power, like, a lot.
Speaking to the Washington Post, Elias said: ‘we found that people who eat chocolate at least once a week tend to perform better cognitively. It’s significant – it touches a number of cognitive domains.’
And in case you’re still in doubt, he confirmed: ‘our study definitely indicates that the direction is not that cognitive ability affects chocolate consumption, but that chocolate consumption affects cognitive ability.’
Australian scientist Georgina Crichton, a nutrition researcher at the University of South Australia led the analysis of Elias’ work and said that those who ate extra chocolate would benefit from improved functionality in tasks such as ‘remembering a phone number, or your shopping list, or being able to do two things at once, like talking and driving at the same time.’
We’re already pretty amazing at multi-tasking (since gender stereotypes dictate it’s a thing people with vaginas are great at) but if chowing down on that bar of Dairy Milk Oreo or Galaxy Cookie Crumble or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is going to further help us keep our shit together, then we’re totally down for incorporating a little more of the sweet stuff – it’s for our brain, after all.
However we spoke to Frida Harju, the in-house nutritionist at the health app Lifesum who warned against stuffing ourselves with chocolate. She said: ‘Eating chocolate in excess will definitely override its nutritional value due to the high calorific content – the high sugar content can also cause glucose swings, which will make you crave more chocolate and has been linked to diabetes, so despite the benefits it should always be eaten in moderation.’
And when we can’t resist, Frida recommends indulging in dark chocolate: ‘it has a higher percentage of cocoa than milk or white chocolate, and cocoa is rich in antioxidants (polyphenols and flavanols), which helps improve concentration and mood, as well as preventing the risk of cardiovascular disease.’
So, it looks like it’s shaping up to be a good month for chocolate (when is it not?) especially as Benedict Cumberbatch has recently been made into a chocolate bunny. Thank god for chocolate.