Chocolate might be the ultimate comfort food — but is it also the ultimate brain food?
Apparently, according to a recent study, it is. It's so good for your brain, in fact, it might improve your brain's function as you age even more so than aerobic exercise.
But you'd have to eat a lot of it — no, like, a nauseating amount — to all those prematurely licking their chops. We're talking one kilogram of pure unrefined cocoa powder, or, if you prefer the taste of candy bars (say, Twix or Butterfinger) like I do, about 44 pounds of chocolate candy every single day, according to Oxford University Press. That's a whole lot of sugar.
For the study, which was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, a group of scientists from Columbia University and NYU gave a daily dose of flavanols extracted from cocoa powder to a small number of healthy 50- to 69-year-old subjects.
Half the participants were given a small dose of flavanols, and half a large dose, for a total of three months.
As anticipated, those who received a high dose were reported to have higher memory function scores than those who got a low dose.
But the older people's brains didn't benefit at all from exercising — which seems a little suspect, because it's highly inconsistent with the loads of other literature on this topic.
Either way, you can use this study as an excuse (if you need one) to enjoy your favorite chocolate bar in moderation from time to time, or maybe even more frequently, if scientists can ever agree on where they stand.