MAY 10, 2015 09:55 PM PDT

Study Answers Prayers: Chocolate with L-theanine Is Miracle Food

WRITTEN BY: Will Hector
You'd be justified in having some skepticism about a study citing the benefits of chocolate that is sponsored by Hershey Company. But, the science appears sound in a new Northern Arizona University study linking chocolate with improved attention span.

Researchers studied six combinations of chocolate and found a (pun alert) sweet spot in chocolate with 60% cacao content combined with L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea. The elixir lowers blood pressure and benefits the cardio system in addition to providing just the right amount of stimulant that helps the subject pay better attention without bouncing off the walls.
If the image gets attention, imagine what the substance can do.
Chocolate has long been heralded for its role as a vasodilator, widening blood vessels and lowering blood pressure, but it also contains powerful stimulants. On balance, it is considered a stimulant rather than a sedative.

But here's where the things got interesting: researchers found that the L-theanine counteracted the short-term hypertensive effects of chocolate. L-theanine plays a role in generating alpha waves in the brain-these are the waves associated with the peaceful state of wakeful relaxation.

The study, which was published in the journal NeuroRegulation, involved 122 participants between the ages of 18 and 25. Using electroencephalography (EEG) technology, researchers measured the brain activity of these lucky participants while they performed a cognitive task with and without having ingested chocolate, while the data was gathered to consider the acute effects of chocolate on attentional characteristics of the brain.

The researchers examined the EEG levels and blood pressure effects from consuming a 60% cacao confection as compared with five control conditions, and the results showed that participants who consumed the 60 percent cacao chocolate tested as cognitively more alert and attentive.

Lead researcher Larry Stevens, professor of psychological sciences at Northern Arizona University, speculated that perhaps millions of people hypertension could eat a bar of this heart-healthy chocolate as an afternoon snack to regulate their blood pressure and help them to be more alert and attentive.

Said Stevens: "A lot of us in the afternoon get a little fuzzy and can't pay attention, particularly students, so we could have a higher cacao content chocolate bar and it would increase attention. Chocolate is indeed a stimulant and it increases brain characteristics of attention."

Before you run to the vending machine, take note: this particular confection has yet to hit the mass market. But you can bet that after this study, product gurus at Hershey and other chocolatiers will be running to the lab. Hmmm...maybe they need taste-testers.

Follow Will Hector on Twitter: @WriterWithHeart

(Sources: Northern Arizona University; Science Daily)
About the Author
  • Will Hector practices psychotherapy at Heart in Balance Counseling Center in Oakland, California. He has substantial training in Attachment Theory, Hakomi Body-Centered Psychotherapy, Psycho-Physical Therapy, and Formative Psychology. To learn more about his practice, click here: http://www.heartinbalancetherapy.com/will-hector.html
You May Also Like
OCT 29, 2018
Neuroscience
OCT 29, 2018
Did we get blindsided about the role of cerebellum?
Cerebellum play a mjor role in higher -order brain functions beyond the motor specific functioning...
NOV 01, 2018
Cannabis Sciences
NOV 01, 2018
Meet Anandamide - The "Bliss" Molecule
Many of us are aware of the relatively new discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is the system which is hijacked by the famous phytocannabinoid (i.e. from cannabis) compounds......
NOV 03, 2018
Technology
NOV 03, 2018
Neurotechnology Treats Paralysis
The latest study at the intersection of technology and neuroscience is the STIMO (STImulation Movement Overground) study, which has established the ne...
NOV 10, 2018
Health & Medicine
NOV 10, 2018
Heart Attack Or Panic Attack? Knowing When To Seek Help
Chest pain, shortness of breath, and feelings of impending doom are all symptoms representative of both heart attacks and panic attacks. For this reason, i...
NOV 12, 2018
Neuroscience
NOV 12, 2018
Role Of Choroid Plexus Protein Klotho In Aging
Inflammaging, describes the increase in an inflammatory alteration in the brain, due to aging and predicts the morbidity and mortality in older humans....
DEC 17, 2018
Health & Medicine
DEC 17, 2018
Zapping the Vagus Nerve for Weight Loss Becomes Smaller
In laboratory testing, the devices helped rats shed almost 40 percent of their body weight. Results of the study were published today (Dec. 17, 2018) in the journal Nature Communications....
Loading Comments...