When the results of the most recent memory decline study hit Nature Neuroscience earlier this week, we were once again reminded exactly why we love cocoa so much. Click through the slideshow to see why chocolate works its way into our hearts over and over again.
1. It’s memory’s friend
The study focused on a form of memory loss that involves possible changes in the dentate gyrus region of the brain. The subjects consumed a flavanol-rich cocoa drink that contained the flavanols found in raw cocoa, and performed cognitive tests, with very significant results indicating that those flavanols matter to memory decline.
Of course, the flavanols in processed chocolate aren’t quite the same, so the researchers wanted to let us know not to just start downing cookies and candy bars hoping to beat memory decline. That doesn’t mean we can’t love cocoa all the more for its newfound health properties!
2. It's inflammation's enemy
If you want to limit blood inflammation, it appears that 6.7 grams of 70% cacoa chocolate (or higher) should do the trick, according to a 2008 study. Because both chronic and acute inflammation cause so many of our modern health issues, this is good news for chocolate, and bad news for our pantries.
3. It takes on your coughs
There’s a chemical compound found in chocolate called theobromine. Strangely, it appears to address activity in an area of the brain that deals with coughing fits – the vagus nerve. One thing’s for sure: this medicine would go down in the most delightful way.
4. It makes you Pharrell-style happy
No one is exactly sure why – though there are many theories. One points to a release of phenylethylamine, or “chocolate amphetamine” as the cause, while another asserts that the anandamide is the culprit, and still another offers that two other ingredients which slow anandamide breakdown are to blame. Whatever it is, it makes us happy. And that’s a sure reason to love a good bite.
5. It staves off the sun
In a London study, dark chocolate high in flavanols had a very favorable effect on the amount of UV light subjects’ skin could handle – meaning dark chocolate may increase the amount of exposure required for skin inflammation. However, other subjects ate low flavanol versions and saw no effects – so again, processed, low quality chocolate isn’t necessarily our best friend.
6. It’s got a whole lotta love for your heart
As Women’s Health Magazine reported, claims that chocolate benefits cardiovascular health are definitely research backed. “In a 9-year Swedish study of more than 31,000 women, those who ate one or two servings of dark chocolate each week cut their risk for heart failure by as much as a third.” If that’s not an excellent reason to dig in, we don’t know what is.