guest post by Isabella Lovett
Science Proves Chocolate Is Good For Your Brain
Chocolate lovers, rejoice: your favorite sweet treat doesn’t just taste good — it’s actually good for you and especially your brain. Packed with powerful antioxidants, chocolate reduces the risk of developing dementia in later life, a study in the European Journal of Epidemiology finds. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Chocolate consumption has also been proven to boost happiness and memory and even make you smarter.
The secret to happiness
Bad day? If you’re like most people, chocolate is probably your go-to pick-me-up whenever you’re in a funk. Its sweet creamy goodness never fails to boost happiness. But there’s actually science to back this up. Chocolate increases the brain’s production of endorphins (feel-good chemicals) which bind with the brain’s opiate receptors to create feelings of euphoria. Think of it like a runner’s high without the physical exertion. It’s also packed with phenylethylamine — otherwise known as the “love drug” since it releases the same chemicals as being in love — and anandamide, a naturally occurring compound known as the “bliss molecule”. And, as if that wasn’t enough, chocolate also is an amazing dietary source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid which helps production of serotonin, the brain’s “happy chemical”.
Chocolate contains flavanols — a form of flavonoids — that appear to be primarily responsible for chocolate’s memory-boosting benefits. Once eaten, flavanols accumulate in certain areas of the brain linked to learning and memory (like the hippocampus). They then get to work stimulating blood flow to the brain, forming new neurons and strengthening existing ones, and protecting neurons from deadly free radicals. When adults aged between 50-69 consistently took a cocoa supplement with high flavanol content for three months, they performed better on memory tests than participants who consumed a cocoa supplement low in flavanols, one study shows.
Protecting memory and preventing cognitive decline becomes increasingly important as we age, and regular consumption of chocolate can play an important part in that. But, if you ever find yourself all chocolated out (we don't know if that is actually possible), supplements or nootropics can help fill in any nutritional gaps to protect your memory. For example, taking a curcumin supplement can improve memory, focus, and concentration. Even better, hot chocolate infused with turmeric (of which curcumin is the primary active ingredient) is a divine flavor combination and an easy way to double down on these memory-boosting benefits.
Chocolate has already been proven to contain flavonoids (compounds also found in red wine and fruit) and neuroprotective qualities linked to improved higher cognitive function. But, a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine has gone even further in proving chocolate consumption makes us smarter. The study found the higher a country’s chocolate consumption, the more Nobel Prize winners they have. Dr. Franz H. Messerli, cardiologist and director of Clinical Hypertension with St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospital, explains “there was a close significant linear correlation between chocolate consumption per capita and the number of Nobel Laureates per 10 million persons in a total of 23 countries”. He also comments the “research is evolving” and exactly how much chocolate you need to eat to increase your chances of winning a Nobel Prize, for now, remains unknown. And while correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation, we’ll take any excuse to eat more chocolate.
So, the next time you indulge in your favorite sweet treat, you can feel good about treating your taste buds and your brain. Chocolate is packed with special nutrients and antioxidants that help protect your brain for life.
Convinced? Shop our chocolate gifts here and get that brain function going!