Experts often cite dark chocolate has a healthy food, and it’s one sweet treat we don’t have to feel guilty about. But new research shows that dark chocolate has a positive impact on memory and mood, giving us yet another reason to love this all-time favorite. 

Dark chocolate is made using cacao. Cacao, in turn, is rich in flavonoids. Researchers already know that dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids – a type of phytochemical that are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances.

But researchers wanted to find out how flavonoids could support cognitive health in human subjects.

On Tuesday, scientists presented encouraging news about cacao at the Experimental Biology 2018 annual meeting in San Diego.

According to Lee S. Berk, DrPH, the principal investigator for two studies, “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 show us that the higher the concentration of cacao, the more positive the impact on cognition, memory, mood, immunity and other beneficial effects.”

In both studies, participants consumed dark chocolate with 70 percent cacao, and it seems that this cacao percentage can strengthen the brain’s “neuroplasticity for both behavioral and brain health benefits.”

While further research is forthcoming to better examine cacao’s impact on cognitive function, these new findings are good news indeed. If you’d like to enjoy some chocolate, look for dark chocolate varieties with at least 70 percent cacao to receive optimal benefits.

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