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Chocolate is Good for You

Can chocolate be good for us?

Research published in the journal Nature Neuroscience just found that people who drank cocoa high in an antioxidant called flavanols did better on a memory test than people who drank low-flavanol beverage. The people in this study were healthy folks between 50 and 69. After three months, people who drank the high-flavanol cocoa each day did about 25% better on the study's memory tasks. This improvement means that the high-flavanol drinkers performed like people several decades younger on the memory tasks! In addition to improved memory skills, in an fMRI brain scan, the high-flavonol drinkers showed increased function in the dentate gyrus. The dentate gyrus is part of the hippocampus whose function declines with human aging. This decline is thought to be partly responsible for age-related memory decline.

Two caveats about this study: 1) This was a small study (only 37 participants) that should be repeated in larger trials to understand the generality of this finding and 2) You would need to eat A LOT of chocolate (about seven bars of dark chocolate every day) to get the daily dose of flavanols. 

If you want to read more about this study, check out this New York Times or this Scientific American article.