Indulge in dark chocolate and make your heart and brain happy!
Eating dark chocolate with a high concentration of cacao has a positive effect on stress levels, inflammation, mood, memory, and immunity, according to two recent studies. Flavonoids in cocoa have previously been linked to mood and memory. But, this is the first time its effect has been studied in humans to see its effect on cognitive and endocrine health.
“For years, we have looked at the influence of dark chocolate on neurological functions from the standpoint of sugar content – the more sugar, the happier we are. This is the first time that we have looked at the impact of large amounts of cacao in doses as small as a regular-sized chocolate bar in humans over short or long periods of time, and are encouraged by the findings. These studies show us that the higher the concentration of cacao, the more positive the impact on cognition, memory, mood, immunity and other beneficial effects,” said lead study-author (of both the studies) Dr. Lee S. Berk. This means that dark chocolate with a high concentration of cacao, i.e. 70% cacao and 30% organic cane sugar is good for memory, mood, and immunity.
The key results from both the studies were:
- Cacao up-regulates the nerve cells communication by enhancing T-cell activation and cellular immune response.
- It also enhances brain’s innate ability to adapt to training and learn new skills, which is also known as brain hyperplasticity.
- Cacao boosts the sensory perception. This means it aids better response to recognizing and interpreting sensory stimuli.
Berk said that the studies require further investigation, specifically to determine the significance of these effects for immune cells and the brain in larger study populations. The two studies were done by researchers of Loma Linda University, US and will be presented at the Experimental Biology 2018 annual meeting in San Diego.
Dark chocolate is nature’s way of providing yummy bitter medicines!