Two recent studies conducted by a team from Loma Linda University in California, have discovered that eating chocolate with a high concentration of cacao can improve mood, memory, immunity and even improve stress levels.
The first study – published in the FASEB Journal – involved five participants who were asked to avoid all other high-oxidant foods 48 hours before the experiment. They were then given 48 grams of dark chocolate with a 70 percent cacao concentration daily for a period of eights days.
Their immune response was then analysed through blood samples both in the following hours and one week later. Researchers discovered heightened cellular immune response and the stimulation of genes associated with neural signalling and sensory perception. These are linked to hyperplasticity which is a state where the brain is more receptive to learning new skills.
The second investigation involved five participants who were again given 48 grams of dark chocolate with 70 percent cacao. Their brain activity was then closely monitored 30 minutes afterwards and then 120 minutes after consumption.
Researchers discovered changes that were usually noted when someone enters a meditative state and also discovered increased activity in high-frequency waves believed to improve memory.
Dr Lee Berk, who led the research, said: “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.”He continued, “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.”
But why does dark chocolate have such beneficial qualities?
Flavanoids – found in cacao – are a type of antioxidant also present in fruit and vegetables and diets high in flavonoids are proven to help reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
How much more evidence could you possibly need?
So there you have it, it’s the perfect excuse to cheat on your pre-summer diet…
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