By Margarita Nahapetyan
According to a new scientific evidence, eating or drinking chocolate is very beneficial for the brain's ability to perform on mathematical tasks, as well as for increasing our energy levels.
It has been known for a long time that chocolate appears to be a good stimulant for the cognitive performance, our mood, and also has some anti-cancer benefits. However, until now, the scientists had no idea that it can also have a positive effect on our math skills. The experts tested the impact of different foods on brain performance, and found that flavanols- a compound that can be found in cocoa, and part of a group of chemicals called polyphenols - have the potential to increase the flow of blood into the brain.
According to the study's lead author, Professor David Kennedy of Northumbria University in England, new findings suggest that students who binge on chocolate when getting ready for an exam, might gain a real benefit from doing so and the sweet pleasure could be useful for mentally challenging tasks as well.
To come up with this conclusion, Professor Kennedy and his colleagues, recruited 30 individuals and asked them to count backwards in groups of three from various random numbers between 800 and 999. The numbers were generated by a computer. At one point of the experiment, when most of the participants seemed to get very tired of performing the tasks, the scientists offered them a cocoa drink with 500 mg of flavanols. This is a very large amount of a compound that might normally be expected in a bar of chocolate or fruits and vegetables that also enjoy the chemical's presence.
The results revealed that the volunteers continued to repeatedly do the calculations and tasks much more effectively and quickly for almost one hour, after the consumption of a mysterious drink that contained one of the happier constituents of chocolate.
However, while the drink helped the participants to perform effectively in the first part of the experiment, they could not repeat the results when it came to counting backwards in groups of seven, which was described as a more complex task, that is attributed to a slightly different part of human brain.
According to the researchers, the darker is the chocolate, the higher are the quantities of flavonoids and the better are health benefits for the body. They say that the less milk and sugar the chocolate contains, the bitter it gets. Some individuals have developed a real passion for dark chocolate, and consider milk or white chocolate less delicious. Some investigation on this matter found that it is these people who get the most health benefits from eating chocolate once per day or every other day. The experts also emphasize the fact that the sweet pleasure has to be consumed in moderate amounts.
Previous studies have shown that chocolate helps keep diabetes and high blood pressure under control. Researchers have even gone as far as to claim that just the smell of chocolate can protect people against common cold. But, unfortunately for chocolate fans, the treat is high in fat and sugar, and therefore, dietitians suggest that it is being consumed as a part of a well-balanced diet, rich in foods such as fruit, vegetables, brown rice and pulses. And while chocolate will not definitely transform you into math genius, it certainly can help with daily math problems and in school tests.
The new findings were presented this month at the British Psychological Society annual conference in Brighton.