Chocolate is associated with an array of health benefits, such as in reducing body mass, warding off strokes and heart attacks, and even preventing cancer. Considering its health benefits, health practitioners today are recommending people of all age groups to consume chocolates. Now, a recent study by the University of South Australia claims that chocolate consumption helps in better functioning of the brain.
Flavanols may delay brain damage
Published in journal the Appetite in 2016, the study suggested that regular chocolate consumption could help “protect against normal age-related cognitive decline.” The researchers said those who enjoyed any type of chocolate at least once a week fared better in certain brain tests compared to those who ate chocolate less than once a week. They also said that chocolate may help improve memory, concentration and problem-solving skills.
In order to examine whether eating chocolate regularly was associated with better cognitive function, the scientists analyzed the data from the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study (MSLS), which followed 1,000 people over 30 years to understand the impact of dietary intake on the risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
It was observed that antioxidant flavanols, found in chocolates, may prevent or delay brain cell damage. Lead author Dr. Georgie Crichton of the University of South Australia said, “Chocolate and cocoa flavanols have been associated with improvements in a range of health complaints dating from ancient times.”
Chocolate also contains some other psychoactive components such as methylxanthines, caffeine and theobromine, which have long been associated with improving alertness and cognitive function.
The findings revealed that more frequent chocolate intake was “significantly associated with better performance on visual-spatial memory and organization, working memory, scanning and tracking, abstract reasoning, and the mini-mental state examination.”
According to a report on dailymail.co.uk, a previous related study found that daily consumption of chocolate could help keep off dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Chocolate plays important role in molding mood
Another related study from the Harvard Medical School found that flavanol content of drinking cocoa improved memory and brain function. As part of the study, scientists made 60 older people drink two cups of hot chocolate every day for 30 days. They examined their memory and thinking skills before and after the 30-day period. Half of the participants drank cocoa with standard levels of flavanol, while the other half consumed cocoa with low flavanol levels. It was found that those who consumed cocoa with higher flavanol content showed improved memory and brain function.
According to a 2015 report on naturalhealthadvisory.com, chocolate plays an important role in molding the mood of a person. It claimed that chocolate helps better depression and anxiety symptoms and helps someone feel calm and content. Thus, flavanols and methylxanthines found in chocolates act as mood enhancers.
Keeping brain healthy
According to a 2015 report on the Huffington Post website, certain foods are considered good for brainpower, walnut is one of them. It has anti-inflammatory nutrients and alpha linolenic acid (ALA) that helps promote blood flow, which, in turn, allows sufficient oxygen supply to the brain. Olive oil has been known to slow brain aging. Berries also keep brain healthy. Antioxidant found in coffee keeps brain healthy and some research suggests that coffee can help keep off depression in women. The report quotes avocado and spinach to be other brain foods.
A 2013 report in chcf.org quotes that nearly one in six California adults has a mental health problem and around one in 20 suffers from a serious mental issue that prevents him or her from carrying on with life smoothly. Among children, the rate is even higher, with one in 13 children suffering from a mental illness. It is important to seek treatment for any kind of disease related to brain damage, including dementia.
If you or your loved one is showing symptoms of any mental illness, seek medical help immediately. The California Mental Health Helpline can help you get treatment options best suited to your condition. Please chat online or call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-559-3923 to find reliable and effective mental health treatment centers in California.