Flavonoids, found in cacao, are powerful antioxidants as well as anti-inflammatory agents.
Although the research, which was presented at this week's Experimental Biology annual meeting in San Diego, might sound encouraging for dark chocolate lovers who want to reduce their stress levels and become sharper in their day-to-day lives, Berk cautioned that more research may be needed to better understand the "cause-and-effect relationship" between high concentrations of cacao and the aforementioned health benefits. The participants, who ate dark chocolate with 70 percent organic cacao, were monitored by electroencephalography (EEG) and monitored at 30 minutes and 120 minutes for response.
We've all heard that cocoa and chocolate are healthy, but a new study also shows that we can reduce stress and even improve our memory by eating dark chocolate.
This last study says that chocolate with at least 70% concentration of cocoa is beneficial to the body. The other bar was a crispy rice mix milk chocolate bar with 40 mg of total flavanols.
The second study, on the other hand, focused mainly on how dark chocolate with high cacao levels could benefit cognitive functions, such as helping improve our memory and strengthening our ability to learn new things. Researchers at the School of Allied Health Professions did EEGs to measure brain activity after feeding five people 48 grams of 70 percent cacao.
"The impact of large amounts of cacao in doses as small as a regular sized chocolate bar in humans over short or long periods of time".
"For years, we have looked at the influence of dark chocolate on neurological functions from the standpoint of sugar content - the more sugar, the happier we are", Berk said. "Although the specific mechanism for visual improvement awaits further study, an increase in retinal, visual pathway, and/or cerebral blood flow could be contributory, enhancing bioavailability of oxygen and nutrients to metabolically active sites", the authors suggested. Flavonoid diets help in preventing cancer and neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases.
"These studies require further investigation, specifically to determine the significance of these effects for immune cells and the brain in larger study populations", Dr. Berk said. They are packed with MUFA'S (monounsaturated fatty acids) that are known to boost your metabolism and burn fat.
Previous research on chocolate has been funded by chocolate companies and therefore swayed.