Your Brain on Chocolate:
It seems like every day scientific studies are telling us that one of our longtime guilty pleasures is a threat to our health. Today, itâ€™s just the opposite. A new Harvard study shows that, for some of us, having our daily dose of chocolate means improved brain function. For their study, Harvard researchers gathered 60 people over the age of 65 (18 of which began the study with impaired blood flow to the brain). The participants were asked to consume 2 cups of hot cocoa per day for a month. During this time, they were instructed not to have any other products containing chocolate. The outcome showed increased blood flow to the brain by 8.3% in the 18 people who began the study with impaired blood flow. Remarkably, participants also scored higher on memory tests once the study was complete. Preventative measures for Alzheimerâ€™s anyone?
Okay, so maybe itâ€™s not all that simple. Letâ€™s face it, itâ€™s not like a daily chocolate fixation will win you a Nobel Prize. Or will it? In an October 2012 study, Franz Messerli found that Switzerland not only had the highest chocolate consumption per person, but also had one of the highest amounts of Nobel Prize winners per person as well.
Slow down. Donâ€™t go running straight to your office cafeteria or local convenience store just yet. Remember the old clichÃ©: â€œEverything is better in moderation.â€ Apply it here. Donâ€™t over indulge; restrain calories elsewhere if you have a habitual vice for chocolate. Check ingredient labels. If sugar is first on the list, itâ€™s probably not a good idea. Look for chocolate with cocoa written as the first ingredient. Cocoa has positive effects on the heart, cholesterol, blood vessels and more. I know what Iâ€™ll be drinking this fall.