Easter: The benefits of chocolate on your mental and physical health, according to science

EASTER – On this Easter Monday, it is not the time to ignore the chocolate. Because the stimulation of the brain and memory, or even the reduction of the risk of depression, are phenomena that have been proven by scientific studies.

In May 2016, researchers from the universities of Adelaide, Australia, Maine, USA, and the Luxembourg Institute of Health demonstrated in a study published in the journal Appetite that weekly consumption (at least once) of chocolate was associated with better cognitive performance.

Around 1,000 people were questioned in the 1970s about their eating habits and thus their consumption of chocolate. Between 2001 and 2006, the researchers analyzed the data. As a result, those who ate chocolate at least once a week performed better on cognitive tests than the others. Among the intellectual abilities observed, visual memory or reasoning.

better memory

For these scientists, it is thanks to the flavonoids present in cocoa that this link between chocolate and cognitive abilities can be explained. These molecules are found in coffee or tea. It is not specified in the study, but the stronger the chocolate in cocoa, the richer it is in this molecule, so dark chocolate should be preferred.

Along the same lines, researchers have specifically looked at the link between chocolate and memory. published in the magazine Nature in 2014, this study shows that here too it is the flavonoids that come into play. Here, one of two groups of participants aged 50 to 69 drank a concentrated flavonoid solution for three months. At the end of the trial period, blood flow increased sharply in a part of the brain linked to memory decline: the dentate gyrus. Which means, for Scott Small, one of the authors of the study, that “if a participant had a memory of a sexagenarian at the beginning of the test, after three months, this same person found a memory of someone older. .between 30 and 40 years”. However, do not rejoice too quickly: the drink ingested by the participants corresponds to the equivalent of four and a half bars of chocolate.

Mental health

Another study, another positive effect. Published in August 2019 in the magazine Depression and anxiety, this shows that the risk of depression is reduced with the consumption of dark chocolate. Canadian and British scientists at University College London analyzed the chocolate consumption of more than 13,000 Americans. Their conclusion is that people who regularly ate dark chocolate were 70% less likely to be affected by depression. Other factors, such as smoking, physical activity, weight, etc., were taken into account to ensure that they did not impact depressive symptoms.

However, more studies will be needed to confirm this link. As the lead author of this study points out, Sarah Jackson“It could be that depression makes people lose interest in chocolate, or that other factors make people less likely to eat dark chocolate and be depressed.”

Cardiovascular diseases

The benefits of chocolate are not limited to the brain. Some researchers have shown, for example, a correlation between its consumption and the reduction of cardiovascular diseases. The study, published in the journal Heart (BJM) in 2018. After observing the consumption of chocolate by 25,000 English people, the researchers observed a relationship between it and a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease. But, because there is often a but, it is only a correlation and not a causal link. Other factors such as age or sports practice could explain this lower propensity to develop cardiovascular disease, as highlighted Science and Future.

Lastly, be careful. If chocolate has virtues, it should not be abused. In addition to cocoa, we must not forget that chocolate is a sweet product. As such, it can be enjoyed, but in moderation.

See also in The HuffPost: For Easter, Replace Chocolate Eggs With “Pop Cakes”

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