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Chocolate consumption may improve cognitive function

Dietary flavonoids have been associated with a decreased risk of dementia and improved performance on cognitive tests in preliminary research.  The specific subclass of flavonoids that is present in chocolate, flavanols, may also lower blood pressure and improve endothelial function.  Due to these potential health benefits, the relationship between dietary flavenoids and improved cognitive function has been an area of interest for researchers.

 

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a study that correlated chocolate consumption and cognitive function.  The study compared the per capita consumption of chocolate in various countries versus the number of Nobel Prize winners.  Data on chocolate consumption were reported by several European chocolate manufacturing organizations.  The number of Nobel Prize winners served as a surrogate marker for improved cognitive function.  Overall, the study found a strong positive correlation between per capita chocolate consumption and the number of Nobel Prize winners (r=0.791, p<0.0001).  An outlier in the analysis was the home of the Nobel Prize, Sweden, which had more Nobel Prize winners than predicted by their per capita chocolate consumption.  The positive correlation between chocolate intake and cognitive function found in this study does not prove causation, but may prompt further research on the direct effects of flavanols found in chocolate on cognitive function.

 

The full article is available at the New England Journal of Medicine website:

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMon1211064


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