As if we needed one more reason to love chocolate, now a new study shows it may hold a bonus health benefit: a memory boost. A new study published in Nature suggests that a compound found in the treat could actually mitigate age-related memory loss.
Researchers at Columbia University looked at the brains of 37 50- to 69-year-olds. Half of the participants received a chocolaty, high-flavanol (compounds from cocoa) drink every day for three months. The other half drank a similar mix containing far fewer flavanols. Results showed that those drinking the high-flavanol mix exhibited improvements on memory tests and higher activity in the dentate gyrus, a part of the hippocampus linked with memory. In other words, we may be able to use chocolate to help fight normal, age-related memory loss.
This isn't the first time chocolate has been linked to our health. Dark chocolate may help reduce inflammation, and it houses antioxidants, which are thought to help the body's cells resist damage. It has also been linked to improved mood, heart disease prevention, and protection of the skin from UV rays.
Does that mean these findings are an RX to OD on chocolate? Not so fast. While the compounds found in cocoa may have some powerful memory magic, according to this newest research, a sugar binge isn't the answer: You'd have to eat about 300 grams of dark chocolate per day, according to The New York Times. A typical dark chocolate bar contains about 24g of sugar and a whopping 43g of fat. Plus, you'd have to eat about three of those daily to obtain the same amount of flavanols as the study's participants. As with most things, chocolate is best enjoyed in moderation.
Inspired? Check out our 51 best chocolate recipes here.