Friday, 10 June 2011

Chocolate makes you Clever!

I was talking about chocolate again today and some people simply don't believe that is makes you cleverer and asked me where is the research evidence.
Chocolate is made from the seeds of the tropical cacao tree. The Greek term means literally "food of the gods". Cacao beans were used by the Aztecs to prepare a hot, frothy drink with stimulant and restorative properties. Chocolate itself was reserved for warriors, nobility and priests because the Aztecs valued its ability to confer wisdom and vitality.

Closer to home, a study of 8000 male Harvard graduates showed that chocoholics lived longer than abstainers. Their long life may be explained by the high polyphenol levels in chocolate. Polyphenols protect against heart disease. Now the important bit; scientific trials suggest chocolate consumption may subtly enhance cognitive performance with scores for verbal and visual memory being raised by eating chocolate! Impulse-control and reaction-times are also improved! We also know that at a "symposium" at the 2007 American Association for the Advancement of Science more evidence was presented suggesting that chocolate consumption can be good for the brain. Experiments with chocolate-fed mice suggest that it stimulates neurovascular activity, enhances memory and increases alertness. 

I always advise people to eat dark chocolate rather than the kinds of calorie-rich white stuff. In 2007, a study suggested that eating dark chocolate was more rewarding than passionate kissing but I think I need to do more research to replicate this result!

Chocolate contains essential amino acids important in the production of serotonin. Enhanced serotonin levels typically reduce anxiety. Consumption of chocolate also triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, and reduces the chocolate-eater's sensitivity to pain. Endorphins contribute to the warm inner glow induced in chocoholics.

So keep eating dark chocoalte!

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