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Seniors with Chocolate Addictions May Be Smarter Than the Rest

Are there any problems chocolate can’t solve? Previous research has associated chocolate with a lower risk of stroke, improved heart health and exercise performance, and a better mood. Adding to those benefits, a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that eating chocolate regularly could also decrease the risk of cognitive decline in seniors. The study included 531 participants, aged 65 and over, with normal scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE)—a test that measures a person’s cognitive ability. At the beginning of the study, researchers evaluated the participants’ dietary habits, including chocolate consumption, through food-frequency questionnaires and used the MMSE to evaluate their cognitive function. Around four years later, researchers used the MMSE again to evaluate the participants’ risk of having a decline in cognitive function, defined as a decrease of two or more points on the MMSE. After adjusting for gender, age, education, smoking and alcohol habits, body mass index, hypertension, and diabetes, researchers found that:

  • Eating an average of three pieces of a chocolate bar, one chocolate snack, or a tablespoon of cocoa powder every week was associated with a 40% lower risk of cognitive decline.
  • Notably, chocolate’s protective effects were only observed in participants who consumed 75 mg or less of caffeine daily.

These findings suggest your small chocolate habit may equal brain benefits. Just remember that not all chocolate is created equal: milk chocolate can contain high amounts of calories and sugars, and our bodies can’t absorb beneficial compounds from milk chocolate as well. Therefore, it’s best to stick to small portions of dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 60% or more.

Source: Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease

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