If you’ve ever needed an excuse to treat yourself to a little chocolate, here’s your chance. According to researchers at Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Centre in Southern California, consuming dark chocolate can have a positive effect on your brain health and can increase your happiness.
From analysing the research from both studies conducted, the researchers found that eating dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao, typically chocolate over 70 per cent ( or as close to 70% as possible), reduces stress levels and inflammation. Researchers also found that gradually nibbling on dark chocolate throughout the day could improve your mood, memory and immunity.
The study examined the impact of 70 percent cacao chocolate consumption on human immune and dendritic cell gene expression, with focus on pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. The results quickly showcased that cacao consumption up-regulates multiple intracellular signalling pathways involved in T-cell activation, cellular immune response and genes involved in neural signalling and sensory perception – one of which is potentially associated with the phenomena of brain hyper-plasticity.
This study then assessed the electroencephalography response to consuming a total of 48grams of dark chocolate with 70% cacao after 30 minutes and again after 120 minutes, on modulating brain frequencies 0-40Hz, specifically beneficial gamma frequency (25-40Hz). Results of the study displayed that chocolate with 70 percent cacao enhances neuro-plasticity for various behavioural and brain health benefits.
According to the new research, the study was built around already-known existing knowledge of the benefits of consuming flavonoids, which has been collected over the past few years throughout various studies around the world, which in-tern discovered that they are “potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.” The amount of cacao you would find in a normal-sized chocolate bar reportedly contains a high amount of flavonoids which are know known to benefit brain and cardiovascular health. According to the research, the higher the cacao consumption, the happier you become.
Dr. Lee S. Berk, associate dean of research affairs at Loma Linda and lead researcher said in the study press release, “For years, we have looked at the influence of dark chocolate on neurological functions from the standpoint of sugar content — the more sugar, the happier we are. This is the first time that we have looked at the impact of large amounts of cacao in doses as small as a regular-sized chocolate bar in humans over short or long periods of time, and are encouraged by the findings.”
The benefits of eating dark chocolate don’t just impact your brain health. Previous studies on the topic discovered that dark chocolate can also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, it’s already scientifically proven that dark chocolate is nutritional, lowers the risk of heart disease, is a powerful source of antioxidants, may improve blood blow and lower blood pressure, and can assist in protecting your skin against the sun.
More studies in the field are already scheduled to be conducted, specifically focusing on the significance of these effects for immune cells and the brain in larger study populations.