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Eating Chocolate At Least Once A Week Can Change Your Brain

Eating Chocolate At Least Once A Week Can Change Your Brain

Good news for your sweet tooth! According to a recent study, eating chocolate at least once a week can increase your cognitive ability. It’s true, you have the permission to get up and go eat some chocolate!

In ancient times chocolate was used as medicine to “reduce fever, treat childhood diarrhea, promote strength before sexual conquests, decrease ‘female complaints’, increase breast-milk production, encourage sleep and helps to clean the teeth.” However, this new research is different. Read on to find out what makes chocolate a super-food for the BRAIN.

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How Chocolate Changes Our Cognitive Ability

The study done at the Main-Syracuse Longitudinal center by Merrill Elias studied over 1,000 people: the researchers used a number of different cognitive tests on people who never or rarely ate chocolate and gave the same tests to those who ate chocolate at least once a week. The people who regularly ate chocolate scored better on cognitive exams and carried out simple tasks such as remembering phone numbers with greater success.

“We found that people who eat chocolate at least once a week tend to perform better cognitively,” said Elias. “It’s significant – it touches a number of cognitive domains. The key benefits of eating chocolate once a week increased “visual-spatial memory, working memory, scanning and tracking, abstract reasoning, and the mini-mental state examination.”

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While the research suggests that they don’t know exactly what the relationship between chocolate and cognitive ability is, they do know that there’s something special going on here.

Flavonols Increase The Brain’s Power

What science does know about chocolate is that it’s full of flavonols. Flavonols are found naturally in cocoa, which chocolate is made from, and they seem to have a positive effect on people’s brains. Many studies have found that intaking flavonols can reduce the effects of age on cognitive ability and memory. This study tested 90 elderly people over an 8 week period and on an average the people who ingested high levels of flavonols completed tests they were given faster.

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Another study from 2010 found that flavonols increase the brain’s power. It’s thought that flavonols, like coffee and tea, increase blood flow to the brain, and therefore improve it’s cognitive ability.

Some Chocolates Are Better

This is not to suggest that everyone should stop what they’re doing and shove chocolate bars down their throats. Chocolate is still full of sugars, which is currently the bane of the nutrient world. However, now there seems to be a good reason to eat some chocolate occasionally.

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However, now there seems to be a good reason to eat some chocolate occasionally. Dark chocolate is higher in flavonols and lower in sugar than milk chocolate, so it surely is the better option. At most grocery stores, you can find dark chocolate that has up to 90% cocoa. That’s almost pure chocolate! Since flavonols are naturally occurring in cocoa, it stands to reason that the higher the percentage of chocolate you’re eating, the better it is for your brain.

Go buy some dark chocolate and enjoy. Don’t take it from me, take it from a scientist, Merill Elias says “I think what we can say for now is that you can eat small amounts of chocolate without guilt if you don’t substitute the chocolate for a normal balanced healthy diet.”

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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