How Dark Chocolate Can Reduce Stress and Improve Memory
Yes, you read that right! Research has shown that consuming dark chocolate is both delicious and good for our stress levels and brain function — that’s a win-win in our book.
Dark Chocolate Has Antioxidants
One of the ways that dark chocolate benefits health is through its antioxidant activity. Dark chocolate contains many antioxidants, including various polyphenols and flavonoids like catechin, epicatechin, and procyanidins. These compounds scavenge for free radicals and fight back on oxidative stress in the body, which is a leading cause of disease and premature aging.
Dark Chocolate Improves Brain Wave Function
In a recent study, researchers looked at how consuming 48 grams of dark chocolate with 70% cacao affected brain wave patterns. They found that eating the antioxidant-rich chocolate changed people’s brain frequency by upregulating gamma waves.
The gamma frequency is the highest in the brain, linked to higher cognition, memory, and recall abilities. This can translate to better functioning in complex activities, like information processing, as well as reduced stress.
In this study, the positive effects on gamma waves happened quickly — within a half-hour of eating the chocolate bar. The researchers are hopeful that this knowledge could apply to improving cognitive function in the aging population.
Dark Chocolate Improves Immunity
People who ate the dark chocolate also experienced better immune system functioning, with an increase in cellular signaling pathways involved with T-cell activation and the immune response. Dark chocolate also reduced inflammation by switching the activity of molecules called cytokines from pro-inflammatory to more anti-inflammatory.
The Bottom Line
Dark chocolate can definitely be a part of a healthy diet — and now we know it may also improve cognition, stress, and immune responses. However, be sure to get at least 70% cacao — the more the better — to receive the benefits. And, an entire chocolate bar per day is likely not beneficial to health; try sticking with one or two ounces.