Wednesday, 27 June 2007

I was talking about chocolate again today and some people simply don't believe that is makes you cleverer and asked me where is the research evidence...

Chocolate is a psychoactive food. It is made from the seeds of the tropical cacao tree. The Greek term means literally "food of the gods". Cacao beans were used by the Aztecs to prepare a hot, frothy beverage with stimulant and restorative properties. Chocolate itself was reserved for warriors, nobility and priests. The Aztecs esteemed its reputed ability to confer wisdom and vitality.

A study of 8000 male Harvard graduates showed that chocoholics lived longer than abstainers. Their longevity may be explained by the high polyphenol levels in chocolate. Polyphenols reduce the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins and thereby protect against heart disease. Placebo-controlled trials suggest chocolate consumption may subtly enhance cognitive performance. As reported by Dr Bryan Raudenbush (2006), scores for verbal and visual memory are raised by eating chocolate. Impulse-control and reaction-time are also improved. study needs replicating.

A "symposium" at the 2007 American Association for the Advancement of Science - hyped as a potentially "mind-altering experience" - presented evidence that chocolate consumption can be good for the brain. Experiments with chocolate-fed mice suggest that it stimulates neurovascular activity, enhancing memory and alertness. Coincidentally or otherwise, many of the worlds oldest supercentenarians were passionately fond of chocolate. You are best advised to eat dark chocolate rather than the kinds of calorie-rich confectionery popular in America. In 2007, a UK study suggested that eating dark chocolate was more rewarding than passionate kissing. More research is needed to replicate this result!

Chocolate contains essential amino acids important in the production of the mood-modulating neurotransmitter serotonin. Enhanced serotonin function typically diminishes anxiety. Consumption of chocolate triggers the release of endorphins, the body's endogenous opiates. Enhanced endorphin-release reduces the chocolate-eater's sensitivity to pain. Endorphins contribute to the warm inner glow induced in chocoholics.

Keep eating dark chocoalte!

No comments: