There have been more than a few studies that tout the benefits of chocolate for health. A study released
in June 2015 in the United Kingdom suggested that individuals who ate more than 3.5 ounces of chocolate a day (that’s about two full Hershey bars for those who are counting) had a much lower incidence of heart disease than those who ate little or no chocolate.
The latest study
to come out with information on chocolate and health benefits was conducted using data from the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study (MSLS) that has been tracking nearly 1000 participants for over 30 years. The study includes detailed data about the health habits, diet, exercise and other factors covering almost every part of the participant’s daily lives and how those factors influence aging, cognitive function and cardiovascular health.
Study author Georgina E. Crichton from the Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA) at the Sansom Institute for Health at the University of South Australia said in a press release
, “Chocolate and cocoa flavanols have been associated with improvements in a range of health complaints dating from ancient times, and have established cardiovascular benefits, but less is known about the effects of chocolate on neurocognition and behavior. We examined whether habitual chocolate intake was associated with cognitive function (brain function - memory, concentration, reasoning, information processing), in nearly 1,000 individuals in the MSLS and found that those who ate chocolate at least once per week (or more), performed better on multiple cognitive tasks, compared to those who ate chocolate less than once per week.”
Crichton stated that the research was conducted using cognitive testing that evaluated verbal memory, scanning and tracking, visual-spatial memory and organization and abstract reasoning. Much of the testing involved having to recall where an object was placed, recall a list or words or process information needed to solve puzzles. What makes the results significant is that the data was not sorted out into groups of age, sex, or health. Across the board, those who consumed chocolate did better on cognitive measures, regardless of other factors.
The problem with this study and many others that suggest chocolate consumption can prevent diseases is that it’s observational. Studies that rely on participants filling out questionnaires about their health and eating habits cannot show cause and effect. They can merely show an association between two things. The researchers stressed that more research into flavanols is necessary to see if other foods that contain them, such as apples, blueberries and onions and beverages like green tea and red wine. Also, since chocolate can contain large amounts of sugar and fat, it should be part of an overall healthy diet. Check out the video below to see more information on this new research.