According to two new studies, dark chocolate with a high cocoa content would be excellent for our health. Rich in flavonoids, it stimulates our immune system and improves our memory and our learning abilities.
Here are two scientific studies that will please chocolate lovers. Already praised for its benefits on our cardiovascular system and our nervous system, this gourmet food would also be excellent for our immune system and boost our cognitive abilities. On one condition, however, that dark chocolate is composed of at least 70% cocoa.
Presented at the annual Experimental Biology 2018 conference in San Diego, California on April 23-24, this new work was led by Dr. Lee S. Berk, Vice Dean of Research Affairs of the Loma Linda Paramedic School. He was particularly interested in the benefits of dark chocolate on the brain and the immune system.
Improved brain neuroplasticity
For the first study, researchers asked five healthy subjects aged 22 to 40 to eat 48 g of dark chocolate (70% cocoa and 30% organic cane sugar), which is equivalent to to a small bar of chocolate. The brain activity of the participants was measured by electroencephalography before they consumed chocolate, then about 30 minutes and 120 minutes later.
They then found that eating dark chocolate increased the gamma frequency in brain cortical regions of the brain, areas involved in memory and sensory processing. This indicates that 70% cocoa chocolate "improves brain neuroplasticity" and offers "behavioral and brain benefits", which means that it boosts memory and learning abilities.
A strengthened immune system
The second study involved five healthy adults aged 25 to 50, who were asked to eat 48 g of dark chocolate a day for 8 days.
Blood samples were taken at the beginning of the experiment, and others were harvested daily 2 hours after the chocolate was consumed. These samples were then analyzed to determine how chocolate consumption affects the expression of genes associated with the activity of the immune system.
The researchers found that eating dark chocolate led to an increase in the expression of genes involved in the activation of T cells, which are white blood cells fighting infections and diseases. The researchers also found that dark chocolate intake increased gene expression associated with neuronal signaling and sensory perception.
Chocolate, to consume in moderation
How to explain the benefits of dark chocolate on our health? For researchers, this is due to the presence in the cocoa of flavonoids, powerful antioxidants that also play the role of anti-inflammatory agents. It is they, not cocoa sugar, that benefit our brains and our immune system.
"For years, we have been studying the influence of dark chocolate on neurological functions in terms of sugar content - the more sugar we have, the happier we are," says Dr. Berk. once we examine the impact of large quantities of cocoa at doses as small as a full-size chocolate bar in humans over short or long periods, and we are encouraged by the results. is high, the impact on cognition, memory, mood, immunity and other beneficial effects is positive, "he adds.
No need, therefore, to rush on the chocolate and consume large quantities, to benefit from its virtues. "Eating excessive amounts of chocolate is not recommended because many chocolate products are high in calories from sugar and fat and could lead to weight gain and other metabolic problems," says Dr. Elizabeth Mostofsky, professor at Department of Epidemiology at Harvard Chan School in Boston. "But a moderate intake of high-cocoa chocolate can be a healthy choice."