Easter: The benefits of chocolate for your mental and physical health, according to science

EASTER – This Easter Monday is not the time to give up chocolate. Because stimulating the brain and memory or reducing the risk of depression are phenomena that have been proven by scientific studies.

In May 2016, researchers from the Universities of Adelaide, Australia, Maine, USA and the Luxembourg Health Institute showed in a study published in the journal appetite that eating chocolate (at least once a week) was associated with better cognitive performance.

In the 1970s, around 1,000 people were asked about their eating habits and thus their chocolate consumption. Between 2001 and 2006, the researchers analyzed the data. As a result, those who ate chocolate at least once a week performed better than those who did not on cognitive tests. Intellectual abilities observed include visual memory or logical thinking.

Better memory

For these scientists it is thanks to the flavonoids contained in cocoa that this connection between chocolate and cognitive abilities can be explained. These molecules are found in coffee or tea. It’s not stated in the study, but the stronger the chocolate in the cocoa, the richer it is in this molecule, so dark chocolate should be preferred.

In the same vein, researchers have specifically looked at the connection between chocolate and memory. Published in the magazine Nature In 2014, this study shows that flavonoids also come into play here. Here, one in two groups of participants aged 50 to 69 drank a concentrated flavanol solution for three months. At the end of the test period, blood flow increased sharply in a part of the brain associated with memory loss: the dentate gyrus. For Scott Small, one of the authors of the study, this means: “If a participant had a memory of a 60-year-old at the beginning of the test, after three months the same person found a memory of an old person. between 30 and 40 years”. Don’t get too excited, though: the drink participants will be consuming is the equivalent of four and a half bars of chocolate.

Mental health

Another study, another positive effect. Published in the magazine in August 2019 depression and anxiety, this shows that the risk of depression is reduced by the consumption of dark chocolate. Canadian and English scientists from University College London analyzed the chocolate consumption of more than 13,000 Americans. Their conclusion is that people who regularly ate dark chocolate were 70% less likely to be affected by depression. Other factors such as smoking, physical activity, weight, etc. were taken into account to ensure they did not affect depressive symptoms.

However, more studies are needed to confirm this association. As the lead author of this study, Sarah Jackson, points out, “it could be that depression causes people to lose interest in chocolate, or other factors could make people less likely to eat dark chocolate and become depressed.”

cardiovascular diseases

The benefits of chocolate aren’t limited to the brain. For example, some researchers have demonstrated a correlation between its consumption and reductions in cardiovascular disease. The study published in the journal heart (BJM) in 2018. After monitoring the consumption of chocolate by 25,000 English people, the researchers found an association between it and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. However, since there is often a but, it is only a question of a correlation and not a causal connection. Other factors such as age or exercise could explain this lower propensity to develop cardiovascular disease, as pointed out by science and future.

Finally, be careful. If chocolate has virtues, it should not be abused. In addition to cocoa, it must not be forgotten that chocolate is a sweet product. As such, it can be enjoyed, but in moderation.

See also on The HuffPost: Replace chocolate eggs with ‘popcakes’ for Easter

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