Chocolate is good for your brain - according to scientists

No longer will reaching for a piece of chocolate at the end of a long day be filled with shame - turns out, it's good for you.

By Rhona Shennan
Tuesday, 30th April 2019, 3:19 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th April 2019, 3:25 pm
Science now says that a small square of dark chocolate is actually good for us (Photo: Shutterstock)

A review from Italian University of L’Aquila has revealed that a small piece of dark chocolate each day can actually improve your day to day cognitive ability.

What does it help?

Valentina Socci and Michele Ferrara, authors of the review, say that dark chocolate actually improved attention, processing speed, working memory and verbal fluency.

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The Italian researchers reviewed the effects of dark chocolate on elderly people who eat it on a regular basis.

The review found that, over the course of three months, the chocolate helped slow down a decline in memory.

How does it help?

The ‘magic’ of chocolate all comes down to the presence of something called cocoa flavanols.

They are a type of compound found in dark chocolate and also in fruits including apples, grapes and pears.

“If you look at the underlying mechanism, the cocoa flavanols have beneficial effects for cardiovascular health,” said the researchers.

The chemical compounds are reported to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

How much can I have?

Despite the benefits of the sweet treat, the researchers were keen to highlight that this doesn’t mean you can have unlimited amounts of milk chocolate.

“There are, however, potential side effects of eating cocoa and chocolate. Those are generally linked to the caloric value of chocolate,” the report said.

Milk chocolate contains extra additives like sugar and when eaten in excess is unhealthy.

People should stick to a small amount of dark chocolate, but it can be enjoyed every day.

As the report says, “Dark chocolate is a rich source of flavanols. So we always eat some dark chocolate. Every day.”