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This Is A Really Good Reason To Eat More Chocolate

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The key to a high-functioning brain may be a weekly chocolate bar.

Psychologist Merrill Elias began a study in the mid-1970s to observe the relationship between blood pressure and brain performance in just under 1,000 people in New York state.

The study involved seven waves of cognitive tests, with the sixth taking place between 2001 and 2006.

During the sixth wave, Elias and his team decided to ask participants about their dietary habits to see if these habits affected the two factors being measured.

So, between 2001 and 2006, participants took a questionnaire about what they ate on a regular basis.

The team discovered eating chocolate improved one's memory as well as abstract thinking, according 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.

These individuals who ate chocolate weekly performed better on cognitive tests than those who reported eating chocolate less than once a week.

The chocolate-eating group appeared to possess higher-functioning skills in the areas of "visual-spatial memory and [organization], working memory, scanning and tracking, abstract reasoning and the mini-mental state examination," Georgina Crichton, the lead researcher who analyzed the study's results, explained.

Crichton, who is a nutrition researcher at the University of South Australia, explained these skills make one better at multi-tasking as well as remembering things like phone numbers and shopping lists.

The researchers additionally tested if one's chocolate consumption makes him or her more likely to perform better on cognitive examinations or if people who perform better on cognitive examinations are more likely to eat chocolate.

Elias said,

Our study definitely indicates that the direction is not that cognitive ability affects chocolate consumption, but that chocolate consumption affects cognitive ability.

Crichton and Elias aren't sure what it is about chocolate that improves cognition, but nutrients found in cocoa called flavan-3-ols (or flavanols) may play a significant role.

Previous research suggested these nutrients increase blood flow to the brain, improving numerous neurological abilities.

Elias isn't ready, however, to condone eating chocolate every day.

He told The Washington Post,

I think what we can say for now is that you can eat small amounts of chocolate without guilt if you don't substitute chocolate for a normal balanced healthy diet.

Elias hinted future studies will reveal more details about the cognitive effects of eating chocolate more than once a week.

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Citations: The magical thing eating chocolate does to your brain (The Washington Post)