Amanda Pendolino
August 08, 2013

Study Says Chocolate Is Good for Your Brain

Want to prevent dementia? Drink some hot cocoa!

A new study published by the American Academy of Neurology found that seniors who drank two cups of hot cocoa each day had better brain function than those who didn’t.

“We’re learning more about blood flow in the brain and its effect on thinking skills,” says study author Dr. Faraneh Sorond, of Harvard Medical School. “As different areas of the brain need more energy to complete their tasks, they also need greater blood flow. This relationship, called neurovascular coupling, may play an important role in diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

In the study, participants used computer programs to test their memory and thinking skills while ultrasound machines measured the amount of blood flow to the brain on several different occasions over the course of 30 days. All participants were asked to drink two cups of hot cocoa a day while refraining from consuming any other chocolate. Participants with impaired blood flow at the beginning of the study saw an 8.3 percent improvement in circulation; those who began the study with normal blood flow to their brains saw no changes.

Sorond says more work needs to be done to study the link between cocoa and brain function — but it’s promising that scientists now have a way to identify individuals at risk of cognitive impairment, and can potentially slow the growth of diseases like Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia and early cognitive dysfunction.

The problem with chocolate is that sugar is essentially evil — but then again, a 2012 study found that people who regularly eat chocolate actually have lower BMIs than those who don’t. So maybe we can ignore those evil sugar studies?

Or perhaps at some point we’ll figure out how to isolate the positive properties of cocoa.