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Good News: Chocolate Proven to Improve Memory

A new study shows that dark chocolate — a lot of it — may help delay memory loss in old age.

Scott Olson

Five days before Halloween, when Americans are set to consume record amounts of candy — much of it coated in chocolate — a new study demonstrates the benefits of increasing ones chocolate intake. According to the study, acquired by the New York Times, a test group that consumed high amounts of the "antioxidants called cocoa flavanols for three months" scored higher on a memory test than those who drank a lower dose of flavanol.

The study's senior author Dr. Scott A. Small, a neurologist at Columbia University Medical Center, confirmed that "the improvement of high-flavanol drinkers meant they performed like people two to three decades younger on the study's memory task."

Though the study was partially funded by Mars, Inc., the chocolate company, the results do not reinforce normal candy eating habits. As the NYT notes, in order to consume enough high-flavanols, the average person would need to ingest "300 grams of dark chocolate a day — about seven average-sized bars." It's possible that 100 grams of unsweetened cocoa powder could also do the trick, but any sort of processing diminishes flavanol content. Milk chocolate, which is what coats the average candy bar and lies just beneath an M&M's candy shell, has almost no flavanol content.

Dr. Kenneth S. Kosik, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara cautions readers of the study: "People are going to say, ‘It looks like I can have a lot of candy bars and not exercise.'" Sadly, this is not the case. A more extensive study is planned, though researchers are hopeful. While sugary milk chocolate still isn't good for the body, dark chocolate does appear to be quite good for the brain.

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