The benefits of chocolate for mental and physical health, according to science

Stimulation of the brain and memory, reduction of stress or reduction of the risk of depression, are phenomena that have been shown by scientific studies. (Photo: Anna Blazhuk via Getty Images)

Stimulation of the brain and memory, reduction of stress or reduction of the risk of depression, are phenomena that have been shown by scientific studies. (Photo: Anna Blazhuk via Getty Images)

EASTER – This Easter Monday is not the time to skip the chocolate. Because brain stimulation and memory, or even reduced risk of depression are phenomena that have been shown by scientific studies.

In May 2016, researchers from the universities of Adelaide, Australia, Maine, USA and the Luxembourg Institute of Health showed in a study published in the journal gana that weekly (at least once) consumption of chocolate was associated with better cognitive performance.

About 1,000 people were questioned in the 1970s about their eating habits and therefore about their chocolate consumption. Between 2001 and 2006, the researchers analyzed the data. As a result, those who ate chocolate at least once a week performed better on cognitive tests than others. Among the observed intellectual abilities, visual memory or reasoning.

Better memory

For these scientists, it is thanks to the flavonoids present in cocoa that this link between chocolate and cognitive abilities can be explained. These molecules are found in coffee or tea. It is not specified in the study but the stronger the cocoa chocolate, the richer it is in this molecule, so dark chocolate should be preferred.

Along the same lines, researchers have specifically analyzed the link between chocolate and memory. Published in the magazine Nature in 2014, this study shows that flavonoids also come into play here. Here, one of two groups of participants between the ages of 50 and 69 drank a concentrated solution of flavanol for three months. At the end of the test period, blood flow increased sharply in a part of the brain related to decreased memory: dentate gyrus. Which means, for Scott Small, one of the authors of the study, that “if a participant had the memory of a sixty-year-old at the start of the test, after three months, that same person would find the memory of someone old. between 30 and 40 years ”. Don’t rejoice too quickly, though: the drink ingested by the participants is the equivalent of four and a half chocolate bars.

Mental health

Another study, another positive effect. Published in August 2019 in the magazine Depression and anxiety, this shows that the risk of depression is reduced by the consumption of dark chocolate. Canadian and English scientists at University College London analyzed the chocolate consumption of more than 13,000 Americans. His conclusion is that people who regularly ate dark chocolate were 70% less likely to suffer from depression. Other factors have been taken into account, such as smoking, physical activity, weight, etc., to ensure that it does not affect depressive symptoms.

However, more studies will be needed to confirm this link. As Sarah Jackson, the study’s lead author, points out, “depression could cause people to lose interest in chocolate or other factors to make them less likely to eat dark chocolate and be depressed.” .

Cardiovascular diseases

The benefits of chocolate are not limited to the brain. Some researchers have shown, for example, a correlation between their consumption and the reduction of cardiovascular disease. The study, published in the journal Cor (BJM) in 2018. After observing the consumption of chocolate by 25,000 Englishmen, the researchers observed a link between it and being less affected by cardiovascular disease. But since there is often a but, it is only a correlation and not a causal link. Other factors such as age or sports could explain this lower propensity to develop cardiovascular disease, as he points out. Science and the future.

In the end, though, be careful. If chocolate has its virtues, it should not be abused. In addition to cocoa, we must not forget that chocolate is a sweet product. As such, it can be enjoyed, but in moderation.

See also a The HuffPost: Replace Chocolate Eggs with “Pop Cakes” for Easter

This article originally appeared on The HuffPost and has been updated.


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