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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 August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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