Chocolate lovers can celebrate – not only is it delicious, it’s good for our brains too. Flavonols within cocoa have been found to have several health benefits.
What are flavanols?
Cocoa flavanols are the plant-based nutrients that are naturally found in cocoa. No other food has the same unique combination of flavonols.
A recent study looked at the effects eating cocoa flavonols has on your brain and the findings won’t disappoint those who love to indulge in a bit of chocolate.
Benefits of cocoa
The research found there were improvements in participants’ memory and visual information processing after eating cocoa flavonols.
Remarkably, it was also found women who consumed cocoa after a full night of sleep deprivation were able to alleviate the cognitive impairments caused by poor sleep. Inadequate sleep has detrimental effects on daily functioning: it can impair attention, memory, long-term memory and decision-making abilities – but no more with a bit of a cocoa! This is especially good news if you’re a shift-worker, parent of young kids or a night-owl.
A daily intake of cocoa flavonols was found to have the most impact on attention, processing speed, memory, and verbal fluency.
Unfortunately, there is some bad news for white and milk chocolate fans – it is dark chocolate that is best for you as it has the largest concentration of cocoa (and therefore flavonols).
Added health benefits of cocoa
Encourages healthy circulation
The human body’s circulatory system plays an important role in our daily functioning. It is an intricate network of arteries, blood vessels, and capillaries which flow through the body.
The flavonols help encourage healthy blood circulation through the body and help to maintain a smooth flow of nutrients and oxygen.
Again, it is dark chocolate that has the most impact on circulation. By stimulating the lining of your arteries, flavonols can lower resistance to blood flow and lower blood pressure.
Less risk of heart disease
A study has suggested that high levels of chocolate consumption can result in a reduction in cardiovascular disease.
Reduces risk of stroke
Consuming high amounts of dark chocolate has been associated with lowering the risk of stroke by up to 29 percent (%). A Canadian study found that people who ate one serve of chocolate per week were 22% less likely to have a stroke, compared to those who ate no chocolate.
Before you dive into your dark chocolate, this research does not mean you should devour the whole block. There are some health benefits with dark chocolate but enjoying it in moderation is key.
Dr. Ryan Harvey is a General Practitioner providing after-hours medical care to children and families. Dr. Harvey is experienced in pediatrics and has traveled extensively, administering medical care to children in remote overseas communities. Dr. Harvey is now one of the many home doctors with House Call Doctor, an organization that provides urgent after-hours medical care to residents when their regular GP is closed