Eating more chocolate can help keep memory problems at bay, according to a new study by scientists.
Antioxidants in chocolate can boost memory and cognition and can help ward off the ravages of age, especially in people who are at greater risk of dementia.
Scientists at the University of L’Aquila in central Italy analysed the effects that a chocolate binge had on the brain. They also examined the benefits of eating more chocolate over a long period of time.
Brain boosting effects from chocolate comes from a compound called cocoa flavnols. It increases blood flow in the brain and helped boost heart health, scientists found.
Study leaders Valentina Socci and Michele Ferrara said, “This result suggests the potential of cocoa flavanols to protect cognition in vulnerable populations over time by improving cognitive performance. If you look at the underlying mechanism, the cocoa flavanols have beneficial effects for cardiovascular health and can increase cerebral blood volume in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. This structure is particularly affected by aging and therefore the potential source of age-related memory decline in humans.”
While the study saw chocolate as being beneficial to the brain, it didn’t specifically assess dementia risk.
Eating chocolate boosted working memory and scientists also found that women who ate chocolate after a night without sleep experienced lower levels of brain impairments — this raises hope for those who suffer from insomnia and those who work night shifts.
Experiments also saw that eating chocolate daily improved brain function in older people. Socci and Ferrara said: “Regular intake of cocoa and chocolate could indeed provide beneficial effects on cognitive functioning over time.
“There are, however, potential side effects of eating cocoa and chocolate. Those are generally linked to the caloric value of chocolate, some inherent chemical compounds of the cocoa plant such as caffeine and theobromine, and a variety of additives we add to chocolate such as sugar or milk.”
A press release issued by the university stated: “Cocoa and chocolate are not just treats — they are good for your cognition.”
It added: “Cocoa can be seen as a dietary supplement to protect human cognition and can counteract different types of cognitive decline.”
This story originally appeared on The Sun.