A recent study in the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience may have just uncovered the most delicious way to improve your memory: eating chocolate. Cocoa flavanols, plant-based nutrients found in cocoa beans, has been shown to be able to improve your short-term memory by almost 25%.
In this study, a group of thirty-seven people aged 50-69 years old, consumed a high-flavanol diet for three months, while another group consumed only a low amount of flavanols. Memory tests were given at the beginning and at the end of the study, and the results turned out to be very exciting to researchers: the group that consumed the high amount of flavanols performed as if they were two to three decades younger on their final memory test. Although eating more chocolate has not shown any improvement with long-term memory or diseases such as Alzheimer’s, it has been shown to have a significant impact on short-term memory.
For example, after only three months of consuming the high-flavanol diet, participants were able to remember where they parked their car, or the name of the person they just met, much more readily. And it's not only memory that chocolate can help: it has also been shown to help with blood circulation and heart health as well.
How does this relate to BC students? Well, these new results offer an educational reason to consume more chocolate (as if anyone needed more of an excuse for that). But, don’t go run out and get Reese’s cups and the Milky Ways; unfortunately, that’s not exactly the chocolate the scientists were talking about it. The highest amounts of flavanol are found in dark chocolate, or the supplement CocoaVia produced by Mars, Inc.
Scientists warn that these new findings about the benefits of chocolate are not an excuse to eat a ton of candy bars and forgo exercise. Exercise has also shown improvements for memory (as well as the host of other benefits it has for overall health), but of course, that’s not as fun as eating chocolate.
That being said, this is definitely something to keep in mind the next time you’re cramming for an exam. Try treating yourself with a couple pieces of dark chocolate for every hour you spend in in the library; it will taste delicious, and it may even help you remember that one tricky multiple choice answer on the exam.