A new study has found that drinking hot chocolate could temporarily boost a person’s intelligence. Researchers at The University of Birmingham in the UK have conducted research on 18 healthy men and those who were given cocoa to drink temporarily performed some cognitive tasks better than those who weren’t given cocoa. So, why is it that this cocoa improved the cognitive thinking of the men? Well, it’s all about the flavanol!
Flavanols occur naturally in lots of different fruits and vegetables, including cocoa beans. In this case, the cocoa given to the participants was rich in flavanols. Flavanols are already known to be beneficial for the cardiovascular system. The body needs oxygen to survive, and subsequently, a person is able to think more clearly with higher blood oxygen levels. This is where those magic cocoa beans and seeds come in. The study suggests that an increase in bloody oxygen saturation levels probably came as a result of drinking flavanol enriched cocoa, temporarily. Those who drank this flavanol enriched cocoa were able to perform the tests 11%, on average.
Does this mean we should start chugging cocoa?
The aim of the researchers was to help empower people so that we can make better choices about what we eat and drink. It’s not a prompt to start guzzling cocoa, but who needs an excuse for that anyway?
What researcher Dr. Rendeiro has said, though, is very interesting: “Our results showed a clear benefit for the participants taking the flavanol-enriched drink – but only when the task became sufficiently complicated. We can link this with our results on improved blood oxygenation – if you’re being challenged more, your brain needs improved blood oxygen levels to manage that challenge. It also further suggests that flavanols might be particularly beneficial during cognitively demanding tasks.”
We’re all aware of the important role that vitamins and minerals play in our health and wellbeing. However, it’s always good to have as much information about it as possible – especially if it gives us a reason to indulge in delicious chocolate every now and then!
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