Study: Eating Chocolate Keeps Your Mind Sharp

February 21, 2016 Updated: February 21, 2016

A number of recommendations exist for people who want to keep their mind healthy and alert in old age, and now you can add eating chocolate to that list.

Results from a large-scale study found that regular intake of cocoa flavanols contributes to protection against age-related cognitive decline, according to a research team from the University of South Australia.

Chocolate intake was positively associated with cognitive performance, across a range of cognitive domains.

“Chocolate intake was positively associated with cognitive performance, across a range of cognitive domains in this dementia-free, community-dwelling population,” the researchers wrote.

The link between chocolate consumption and mental fitness was still significant even after factors like “LDL-cholesterol, glucose levels, and hypertension,” as well as cardiovascular health were controlled for in the study, which tracked 968 people in Syracuse, New York.

The mental fitness tests measured a wide range of cognitive functions, including “visual-spatial memory and organization, scanning and tracking, verbal episodic memory, and working memory.”

More frequent consumption of chocolate was associated with better mental fitness across a wide range of domains, even after considering for other dietary differences that the study subjects had.

This is not first study to have a link between eating chocolate and mental fitness, although previous studies have been more short-term.

A 2007 study conducted by the University of Nottingham found increased blood-flow to key regions in the brain for two to three hours after participants drank a flavanol-rich cocoa drink, and a 2013 study from Harvard Medical School found that hot cocoa consumption helped ameliorate impaired blood-flow to the brain in elderly subjects who had dementia.