Dark chocolate doesn’t just taste good; it may promote longevity by improving brain and immune system health. A recent small study showed that, in moderation, consumption of dark chocolate containing 70 percent cacao led to increases in neuroplasticity. One study examined five healthy participants between the ages of 22 – 40 who ate 48 grams of dark chocolate, which is equivalent to one small chocolate bar. Prior to and after the subjects ate the chocolate, their brain activity was measured using electroencephalography (EEG). The scientists discovered a beneficial increase in gamma frequency in the cerebral cortical regions of the brain, which pertain to memory and sensory processing. These results suggest that eating small amounts of dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao may support memory and cognition. More research is needed to explore these findings and to uncover other potential brain benefits of this tasty superfood (Whiteman, 2018).
In addition to enhancing neuroplasticity in the brain, dark chocolate consumption may also boost the immune system as well as neural signaling. A separate study involved five healthy participants between the ages of 25-50, who consumed 48 grams of dark chocolate daily for a period of 8 days. Based on blood samples taken from these individuals before and after they had gone through the study, it was learned that dark chocolate consumption increased their gene expression of white blood cells (T cells), which fight against disease and infection. Moreover, the researchers found that dark chocolate intake increased neural signaling and sensory perception, due to higher levels of gene expression associated with these activities (Whiteman, 2018).
Scientists believe that dark chocolate contains such beneficial effects on our health due to its high concentration of flavonoids, which are antioxidants that protect against inflammation and cell damage. In fact, previous studies have found associations between dark chocolate consumption and lowered risks of diabetes and heart disease. These encouraging findings mean that this delicious treat may benefit brain, immune, cardiovascular health, and more. Future research is expected to shed more light on these positive outcomes, as well as unearth additional health benefits that dark chocolate may provide us with.
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Whiteman, H. (2018, April 27). How dark chocolate could boost brain health, immunity. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321618.php