A Moment of Science

Chocolate Brain

Could having a sweet tooth be good for an aging brain?

Chocolate bar on a white background

Photo: Anne (Flickr)

One day your doctor might prescribe you hot cocoa to bolster brain health.

Dear A Moment of Science,

It seems like most healthful foods are things such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Those foods are great, but as someone with a serious sweet tooth, I have to wonder: Are there any sugary treats that are good for you?

Signed, Sweetness

Fortunately for you, Sweetness, there is some research that shows chocolate may help keep the brain sharp in old age.

In a recent study conducted by the National Institute on Aging and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a group of elderly subjects suffering from low blood flow in their brains were made to drink two cups of hot chocolate daily for a month. They also underwent cognitive testing and neural imaging at the beginning and end of the trial.

As it turned out, the group ended up scoring higher on the cognitive tests at the end of the trial. The imaging also revealed increased blood flow, which is linked to healthy brains.

While it’s still uncertain what exactly the relationship is between the chocolate consumption and the observed changes in thinking and blood low, chocolate lovers everywhere will definitely be rooting for scientists to strengthen the link with more research!

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