If the tantalizing taste wasn't reason enough for you to go crazy over chocolate, then here is another one. A team of researchers in Rome discovered there is a clear link between ingestion of a pure element (cocoa flavonoids) found in chocolate and cocoa and improved cognitive brain function.

The research, which was published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, indicates that consumption of the sweet stuff can make your brain function at higher level due to the aforementioned flavonoids.

Before you think that chocolate is going to make you the next Stephen Hawking, you'd best slow your run to the candy shop. The research isn't saying that eating chunks of chocolate make you an intellectual, but it does indicate that eating chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can have a positive effect on intellectual abilities, particularly for people who face cognitive challenges or those who are sleep deprived.

The Science

Italian researchers of the University of L'Aquila went through prior studies to learn what happens to one's brain after consuming compounds called flavanols (a class of flavanoids), found in chocolate and cocoa.

The study followed the eating habits and eventual impact on 460 people. The researchers discovered that the group who consumed measured amounts of cocoa had better adeptness on reasoning tests.

While the research is still at the preliminary stages, it does indicate obvious changes in attention, general cognition, working memory and processing speed for the group that ate chocolate over those in the study that did not. What's more, the flavanols were shown to improve usual mental functioning and exert a protective role on cardiovascular function impaired by insomnia.

Their Major Findings

The bigger the problem a person faced, the more chocolate could help. Senior women who were suffering severe insomnia saw bigger changes as a result of eating dark chocolate compared to younger people who only suffered from moderate sleep loss. What does this mean for you? The bigger the problem, the greater impact chocolate consumption can have for the better.

Another example is women who ingested chocolate after not sleeping for a night. Scientists discovered that the flavanols were able to counteract some of the mental impairment that occurs after such nights. The researchers became excited about the chance that this could assist individuals who work night shifts, as those folks generally have to endure chronic lack of sleep.

According to researchers, consumption of chocolate regularly had a definite effect on intellectual abilities over a long time. The effects were measurable in senior adults who experienced minor cognitive injuries or memory decline as well as subjects in younger age groups facing typical stressors we attribute to a regular day.

Reasons Why Chocolate Could Be Beneficial to Your Career

  1. Dark Chocolate Improves Focus, Learning, and Memory - Cocoa's flavanols accumulate in the brain area involved in memory and learning. The flavanols have been shown to improve standardized cognitive test scores. Moreover, dark chocolate has been shown to contain caffeine, a brain booster which, in low doses, improves concentration, mood, and memory. Eating dark chocolate can enhance your concentration at work as well as improve your concentration levels, something most managers appreciate.
  2. Chocolate Acts as a Stress Reliever - Ever felt worked up at work? Turns out that reaching for some dark chocolate could help you calm down. The best part is that you don't have even have to worry about the calories from actually eating it. Just smelling cocoa has been shown to slow down brain waves and make you feel calm. A study conducted in 2009 showed that eating at least four ounces of chocolate daily for 2 weeks could reduce cortisol, an infamous stress hormone. Dark chocolate's ability to increase the endorphin and serotonin levels in your brain helps to improve your mood, which in turn makes you relax.
  3. Mental Boost Sometimes work can get stressful and this can make you sluggish. A study involving senior participants showed that taking cocoa could help improve mental performance within eight weeks.

While chocolate has been shown to have cardiovascular and cognitive benefits, that's not saying that chocolate should comprise of a huge part of your daily diet. Researchers warn about the high calories, low nutrient value and high sugar content of chocolate, but they also can't knock the benefits.

Pick one of the many brands of dark chocolate bars that has lower amounts of sugar, for a start. I have one friend who keeps a bar in her purse much of the time. She calls it her "emergency chocolate." In stressful situations, she grabs a bite or two, and it helps her mood. I know it did for me when she gave me some of it.

In moderation, chocolate, especially dark chocolate, could be a difference maker for your next rough day in the office. Even more than that, if you eat a small amount consistently over a long period of time, it might just make your brain healthier, helping you clear your mind enough to make business decisions that take you from simple startup entrepreneur to overnight success.

Published on: Oct 6, 2017