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Can Chocolate Benefit Your Brain?

Not only can consuming small amounts of chocolate protect your heart, it may also enhance blood flow to the brain and improve your cognitive health as you age, according to a new study.

British researchers studied the effect cocoa high in flavanols had on the brains of young women by studying their brains via magnetic resonance imaging while completing a complex task.

In comparison to a control group given no cocoa, patients who drank cocoa high in flavanols experienced a significantly higher increase of blood flow to the brain for as much as three hours, raising the possibility, scientists said, cocoa flavanols might have therapeutic potential as a safe treatment for those who may be cognitively impaired.

Before you run to the grocery store in search of the perfect chocolate, however, scientists agree patients receive the most benefits from minimally-processed dark chocolate. Some guidelines to keep in mind about consuming chocolate;

  • Consume chocolate only in moderation.
  • Stay with dark chocolate because it has antioxidant properties that protect your body from oxidative stress.
  • Eat chocolate only if you're healthy.

EurekAlert February 18, 2007

East Valley Tribune.com February 18, 2007