Does Chocolate Really Help You Think Better?

For many of us, it was those all-night college study sessions that taught us the concept of brain food.

That is, food that actually improves our brain’s cognitive functioning when consumed. Salmon and nuts (especially walnuts) are probably the best-known brain foods, and blueberries and avocados are also known to do the trick.

But frankly, we don’t remember anyone suggesting that eating chocolate might help us better retain information when studying for that notoriously difficult pre-calc final exam.

And yet new scientific research that has been published in the scholarly journal Appetite has suggested just that.

How Does Chocolate Increase Brain Power?

The study, conceived when a nutrition researcher at the University of South Australia began taking a closer look at a project that the psychologist Merrill Elias began in the mid-1970s, essentially tells us one key piece of information about chocolate consumption. Namely, that people who eat chocolate at least once a week tend to perform better cognitively than those who eat no chocolate at all.

But before we explain why chocolate helps your brain perform on a higher cognitive level, let’s try not to get too carried away. Because unfortunately, the author of this study did not discover that eating more chocolate leads to more cognitive improvements. Instead, the study’s subjects were people who ate the equivalent of roughly one standard-sized chocolate bar per week.

Interestingly, neither the study’s author nor the psychologist whose work the study borrowed from are entirely sure why chocolate seems to help the brain work better. But here’s what they do know: Unique, antioxidant-heavy nutrients known as flavonols play a very important role. Flavonols, which are produced by plants, “are active antioxidants that may protect your health through their ability to fight inflammation and neutralize free radicals,” according to an article on the healthy living website LiveStrong.com. We also know that flavonols have been the subject of numerous studies that have shown their positive impact on concentration levels.

The Power of Dark Chocolate in PA

It’s certainly important to bear in mind that dark chocolate has many more flavonols than milk chocolate. So if you plan to purchase chocolate with the goal of improving your brain power, you’ll want to look for chocolate with a cacao (or cocoa) content of at least 60 percent.  And if you can find a bar labeled 70 percent, so much the better.

Then again, there’s a saying that those of us who work behind the counter at Stutz Chocolate have been repeating to each other ever since we first learned of this delectable study: “Some cocoa is better than no cocoa!” Or to put it another way: If chocolate with 60 percent cocoa content if great for the brain, wouldn’t a bar with 20 percent cocoa be one-third as good?

Well … maybe not. Let’s be honest here: We’re candy-makers, not research scientists. But still, this is definitely the sort of study we can get behind. If you’re a regular (or even occasional) Stutz customer, we’re guessing you probably feel more or less the same way. So let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we?

According to a recent Men’s Health article that discussed the study’s findings, the key amount of flavonol-rich chocolate we should be shooting for is about 7 ounces a week, or 1 ounce a day. And here’s even more good news: The Men’s Health article reminded us of chocolate’s other well-known health benefits: Moderate amounts of the sweet stuff, for those of you who may not have heard, have been proven to lower your cholesterol, your risk of stroke, and the probability of dying from heart disease. Which seems to beg the obvious question: Is there anything chocolate can’t do?

Visit our PA & NJ Candy Stores!

Naturally, our Warrington PA, Hatboro PA, and Ship Bottom NJ stores are always well-stocked with enough hand-crafted, high-quality chocolate to make anyone’s grey matter operate on a higher level. Simply click over to the Chocolates & Treats section of our website to take a quick peek at the very special cocoa-infused sweets we make and sell every day of the week.

  • We have a wide array of boxed chocolates in PA, and a unique selection of chocolate creations filled with everything from pecans and cashews to caramel and marshmallow.
  • We offer dozens of different solid chocolate molds, and even sugar-free candy.
  • If you’re planning on purchasing something for a friend or co-worker, be sure to check out our long-time chocolate favorites; these are the sorts of chocolates and candies our customers have been raving about for many long years.

Yes, we sell all of our chocolates and candies online. Still, we’d love to meet you in-person at one of our three stores. Each one is reminiscent of the old-time candy shops you may remember from your youth. And if chocolate has been featured in another high-profile scientific study by the time you pay us a visit, we’ll be sure to tell you all about it.