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Consuming dark chocolate has several benefits to brain function, including reducing stress levels and inflammation, and improving mood, memory and immunity, according to two studies.
Researchers at Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center in Southern California studied how consumption of dark chocolate with a high concentration of cacao — at least 70 percent, with the rest organic cane sugar — has positive effects. The two studies were presented Tuesday at the Experimental Biology 2018 annual meeting in San Diego.
In the past, research has shown that cacao is a major source of flavonoids. Because they are extremely potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, flavonoids benefit brain and cardiovascular health, the researchers said.
“For years, we have looked at the influence of dark chocolate on neurological functions from the standpoint of sugar content — the more sugar, the happier we are,” Dr. Lee S. Berk, associate dean of research affairs at Loma Linda and principal investigator on both studies, said in a press release. “This is the first time that we have looked at the impact of large amounts of cacao in doses as small as a regular-sized chocolate bar in humans over short or long periods of time, and are encouraged by the findings.”