If you’re up late working on a presentation for work, studying for a test or performing some other mentally-taxing task, what’s your snack of choice?
If you go in for caffeinated soft drinks, e.g. colas, you may be helping yourself stay awake but you’re not doing your brain that much good.
Instead, you’d do better to nibble on some dark chocolate. Here’s the story. . .
A Special Message from Lee Euler
Improve Your Memory by 47%?
There’s little doubt that chocolate contains natural chemicals that help your brain perform better. A wide body of research pretty much proves it.
Matter of fact, chocolate may not only help you wrap up today’s (or tonight’s) mental challenges with greater ease, it can also protect you against long-term brain threats like Alzheimer’s disease.
Saving the Brains of Children
The studies on chocolate are so convincing, an international group of researchers believe chocolate could potentially be used in “cocoa interventions” to protect young brains from the kind of inflammation – often caused by air pollution – that might otherwise lead to memory problems like Alzheimer’s disease.1
According to these scientists, “Emerging research suggests that cocoa interventions may be a viable option for neuroprotection, with evidence suggesting that early cocoa interventions could limit the risk of cognitive and developmental concerns.”
This is Your Brain on Cocoa
Are these researchers overselling the benefits of chocolate?
If anything, they may not be touting them enough.
Consider research at the University of L’Aquila in Italy. This eight-week study fed hot chocolate to 90 elderly people who were suffering MCI – mild cognitive impairment, the mild memory loss that frequently comes before the development of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
The results were undeniable: The seniors’ mental performance on cognitive tests improved significantly. What’s more, their blood pressure dropped and their insulin resistance was reduced, leading the researchers to note that their better blood sugar control was probably linked to improved mental capacities.
Which is not surprising, since an increased risk of brain problems like Alzheimer’s has been linked to diabetes and other blood sugar abnormalities.2
Add Years to Your Brain’s Life
Other studies confirm that chocolate should be part of everybody’s anti-aging, brain-protection plan. In research called the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study, it has been shown that folks who consume chocolate at least once a week do better on tests of mental function as they get older than do people who never touch chocolate.3
As researcher Georgina Crichton explains, the tests used in this study show that eating chocolate can help you do better with daily tasks like “…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.”4
Learn More, Faster
Lab tests in Canada show that eating chocolate may provide significant extra help when your brain is trying to learn new information.
The Canadian researchers found that their lab animals were able to learn things more easily – and retain their knowledge – when they were given epicatechin, a natural chemical found in chocolate. The animals consumed epicatechin during their training and immediately after, when the memory of what they had learned was being consolidated.5
Epicatechin is in a family of substances known as flavanols – beneficial compounds found in a variety of fruits and vegetables that are powerful antioxidants. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health have urged an increase of research into how foods like chocolate that are rich in epicatechin (and similar chemicals) can be used to “alleviate the effects of dementia.”6
But don’t wait for further research – a little bit of dark chocolate (which is richest in brain-boosting chemicals) a day may keep your brain problems at bay.
As you may have seen for yourself, word’s gotten out about the benefits of dark chocolate, and it’s available in nearly all health food stores, and in conventional supermarkets as well. Catering to the fad, many brands indicate the percentage of dark chocolate in the candy bar.
The higher the better. I eat pure dark chocolate myself – baker’s chocolate. It’s bitter but I like it. You won’t find it in the candy aisle, though. My second choice is products that are 85% dark chocolate – 15% is plenty of sugar, and the treat tastes sweet.