By Tamara Palmer
If you’re a regular here at Clean Plates, you’re probably aware that we fully support the occasional chocolate treat. When it’s not loaded with added sugar and other unnecessary additives, chocolate is an antioxidant-rich, heart-healthy snack that also happens to taste delicious. If you are also on team chocolate, we have some good news: In case you needed another reason to justify your chocolate intake, recent findings suggest cocoa consumption can have brain-boosting benefits for everyone — not just the elderly.
Here’s what to know.
Cocoa and Cognitive Function
Previous studies have linked bioactive compounds in cocoa with improved cognitive function in elderly individuals. Specifically, researchers found higher flavanols led to improved attention, executive function, and memory.
Now, a published study conducted at the University of Birmingham suggests flavanols are also beneficial for younger, healthy adults.
The double-blind study monitored participants who consumed cocoa drinks that were either low or high in flavanols. And the results were clear: Consuming higher levels of flavanols led to faster brain oxygenation and higher cognitive performance. (Specifically, people who consumed the higher levels of flavanols solved problems 11% faster than those who go the lower dose.)
In other words, we highly recommend investing in a high-quality (non-Dutch processed) cocoa powder and making this iced mocha ASAP.
But, if you don’t find yourself compelled to rush to get the biggest container of cocoa powder that you can in the name of keeping your brain humming along, don’t worry. The authors of the study point out that you can find the same flavanols elsewhere. Apples, berries, grapes and tea are all good sources of brain-supporting flavanols.