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

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

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

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

About 1,000 people were surveyed in the 1970s about their eating habits, and therefore their consumption of chocolate. 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 the others. Among the perceived 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 in coffee or tea. It is not specified in the study, but the stronger the chocolate is in cocoa, the richer it is in this molecule, so it is dark chocolate that is preferable.

In a similar vein, researchers have looked specifically at the link between chocolate and memory. Published in the magazine Nature this study from 2014 shows that flavonoids will also play a role here. Here, one of two groups of participants, ages 50 to 69, drank a concentrated flavanol solution for three months. At the end of the test period, blood flow increased sharply in a part of the brain linked to amnesia: the dentate gyrus. Which to Scott Small, one of the authors of the study, means that “if a participant had a memory of a 60-year-old at the start of the test, after three months, the same person had a memory of an old person between 30 and 40 years old” But don’t rejoice too soon: the drink the participants ingest is equivalent to the equivalent of four and a half bars of chocolate.

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 consuming dark chocolate. Canadian and English scientists from University College London analyzed the chocolate consumption of more than 13,000 Americans. Their conclusion is that people who regularly ate dark chocolate were 70% less likely to suffer from depression. Other factors, such as smoking, physical activity, weight, etc., were taken into account to ensure they did not affect depressive symptoms.

However, further studies are needed to confirm this link. As the lead author of this study, Sarah Jackson, points out, “depression may cause people to lose interest in chocolate, or other factors may make people less likely to eat dark chocolate and become depressed.”

Heart and vascular disease

The benefits of chocolate are not limited to the brain. For example, some researchers have shown a link between its consumption and the reduction of cardiovascular disease. The study, published in the journal Heart (BJM) in 2018. After observing the chocolate consumption of 25,000 British people, researchers saw a link between this and a reduction in cardiovascular disease. But because there is often a but, it is only a correlation and not a causal relationship. Other factors, such as age or exercise, could explain this lower propensity to develop cardiovascular disease, as underlined by Science and future

Finally, be careful though. If chocolate has 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 on The HuffPost: For Easter, replace chocolate eggs with “popcakes”

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

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