This week, dispatches from the wonderful world of science proved yet another reason to love chocolate. Just in time for Halloween fittingly. It turns out, an antioxidant in cocoa showed signs of helping age-related memory loss.
The study, led by Columbia University Medical Center neurologist Dr. Scott A. Small, monitored a pool of 37 59-69 year olds who drank an antioxidant-rich mixture called cocoa flavanols for three months. What they found was remarkable. In the three months, the subjects performed 25% better on a memory test than the group that was on a low flavanols diet.
Although the study was quite small, the results are nonetheless compelling.“It’s an initial study, and I sort of view this as the opening salvo” said Craig Stark, a neurobiologist at UC-Irvine, of the study to the New York Times.
So why don’t chocolate-crazed consumers have photographic memories already? The participants in the study drank a mixture that contained a highly concentrated dosage of 138 mg of flavanols (the magic compound) per day. IRL, that’s basically eating seven bars of dark chocolate a day, enough to thwart even the most devoted chocolate lover. Although the study was funded by Mars, producer of some of the most popular candy bars, your drug-store candies won’t be improving your memory anytime soon.
Clearly studies like this are deceiving to many. “People are going to say, ‘It looks like I can have a lot of candy bars and not exercise.’ So it needs replication on a much larger scale” said Dr. Kenneth S. Kosik of UC-Santa Barbara to the New York Times. The study is a breakthrough despite its misleading results. Especially in the flurry of antioxidant skepticism, this study packs a punch.
Processed foods such as candy bars may never turn into a miracle food, but the health benefits of flavanols are nothing to ignore. So don’t ditch the dark chocolate, scientists are continuing to prove that the stuff is beneficial for your brain.