Willy Wonka Your Way to Better Brain Health
- November 21, 2023
Having a bad day?
Grab that chocolate bar already!
It has been known for quite some time now that chocolate, in general, has some mood-altering ingredients that make us feel good on consumption. However, research in the recent past has shown that regular consumption of chocolate can influence our cognitive function as well.
Yes, that’s right.
You can improve the functioning of your brain by including (a specific sort) of chocolate in your diet. In this blog, we have put together scientific evidence to make you aware of the advantages of chocolate for your brain functioning. That being said, the type of chocolate and the amount consumed regularly also make a difference.
Chocolate and the Cognitive Function of the Brain
Before discussing the cognitive benefits of chocolate, we need to understand the beneficial composition of chocolate. Chocolate is full of flavonoids – the same ingredients that make vegetables and fruits like berries healthy. The flavanols-catechins and epicatechins are the most essential flavonoids present in chocolate. Epicatechins and cocoa powder are the most well-absorbed and biologically active of the flavanols. In reality, brewed green tea has only 8.33 milligrams of this significant flavanol per 100 grams of tea, while dry cocoa powder contains 196.37 milligrams per 100 grams of chocolate.
Strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties characterize flavanols. By raising nitric oxide levels, which are suitable for the artery walls’ health and the arteries’ capacity to relax and permit more blood flow, chocolate can help enhance circulation.
Proven Brain Benefits of Chocolate
● Chocolate reduces depressive symptoms:
The presence of neurotransmitters, Phenylethylamine in chocolate, is responsible for the regulation of your mood and the release of feel-good hormones and endorphins in the brain.
There was a study conducted in 2019, according to which people who consumed any amount of dark chocolate during two 24-hour periods were 70% less likely to report symptoms of depression than those who ate no chocolate. Among the chocolate eaters, the 25% who ate most were the least likely to say they experienced depressive symptoms.
Before you run to the store to stock up on chocolate bars, take note. It was only dark chocolate that produced a significant reduction in the risk of depressive symptoms.
● Executive function improved:
The executive function of the brain refers to the set of skills responsible for flexible memory, working memory, and self-control. As per a study, the administrative function of 546 adults was examined based on Daily intake of 10 to 50 grams of chocolate in various forms, including dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and dairy-based cocoa drinks. The duration of the chocolate intervention ranged from 1 to 6 months.
The Trail Making Test B, which measures how long it takes to connect numbers or letters correctly, was used to assess executive function. This exam measures cognitive abilities such as processing speed, mental flexibility, and attention. According to the meta-analysis, eating chocolate for one to six months improved test takers’ performance on the Trail Making Test B by twelve seconds compared to the control group.
● Increases blood flow:
Studies have demonstrated that cocoa helps blood vessels function better, and other research has shown that it can also reduce blood pressure. One of the keys to brain health is improved general blood flow, which is enhanced by cocoa.
● Improved verbal fluency:
Verbal fluency is the ease with which an individual can produce words. This was assessed using a Verbal Fluency Test.
Participants were required to generate words within specific semantic or phonemic categories. The meta-analysis demonstrated that the people who consumed chocolate produced approximately 6 more words per 60 seconds than those who did not.
● Reduced inflammation:
Flavanols, which have an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant impact, are abundant in dark chocolate. Numerous mental health conditions, such as depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, schizophrenia, personality disorders, and Alzheimer’s disease, have been linked to inflammation.
Chocolate and your Mood
Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, also known as the “love drug,” which causes the release of dopamine. All the enjoyable feelings we experience inside our bodies are brought on by dopamine, sometimes known as the feel-good hormone. Chocolate’s phenylethylamine is recognized to have beneficial benefits on the human brain.
Our nervous system releases this hormone as well, which makes us feel better and reduces tension and pain. Chocolate is considered a comfort food for the human brain due to its ability to increase endorphin levels. Because the cocoa content in dark chocolates maximizes the release of endorphins, they maximally stimulate these hormones. The central nervous system function is stimulated by caffeine.
Chocolates and cocoa include theobromine, which reduces blood pressure and maintains a healthy heart. As cocoa beans are rich in theobromine, dark chocolates contain more than white chocolates
What Type of Chocolate Will Help?
If these benefits encourage you to include chocolate in your diet, remember that different cocoa-based products may range significantly in the amount of bioactive chemicals that provide cognitive benefits. Products made with milk chocolate typically have lower concentrations of these bioactive.
When choosing items made from cocoa, it’s best to go for those with more bioactive compounds to have better advantages.
How Much Chocolate Should You Consume?
As per health experts, consuming 30-60 grams of dark chocolate is beneficial to the overall functioning of the body. Dark chocolate is still high in calories and sugar, so it should also be consumed in moderation. Individual tolerance to chocolate can vary. Some people may be more sensitive to the stimulating effects of chocolate due to its caffeine and theobromine content. Be mindful of how it affects your mood and sleep.
Eating chocolate in moderation can significantly help with your brain health. Executive function, verbal fluency, memory, and other brain functions are enhanced if chocolate is included in the diet.
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