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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 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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