The Best News Yet! The Latest Brain Food Is…… Chocolate!

Does it get any better than this really? Harvard researchers recently found that cocoa flavanols (protective substances that are also abundant in dark chocolate) help improve blood flow to the brain, which could slow the mental decline that occurs as you age. Surely this is great news for me as I eat more chocolate than anybody should be allowed in a lifetime! After reading this and of course indulging in some chocolate to help my mental decline I decided to share one of my all time favorite posts that I wrote sometime ago on the benefits (okay a few cons but definitely more benefits) of chocolate. If this does not make your day all you chocolate lovers out there then I don’t know what will.

Chocolate Pros

**If you eat chocolate, only eat dark chocolate-Dark chocolate has many beneficial polyphenolic bioflavanoids that have powerful antioxidant properties, which can actually help to protect you from damaging oxidative stress. (This is good news-definitely cheers me up a bit)

**Chocolate contains the same type of disease-fighting "phenolic" chemicals as red wine and fruits and vegetables, says Andrew Waterhouse of the University of California at Davis.

**Boosts brain chemicals- More Americans crave chocolate than any other food. Some explanations: chocolate's "melt-in-the mouth" consistency and mood-lifting chemicals such as caffeine and theobromine. And when mixed with sugar and fat, chocolate appears to boost "feel-good" chemicals in the brain (endorphins and serotonin), thus promoting euphoria and calm. Some women use chocolate candy to "self-medicate" for premenstrual syndrome, studies have found.

**Doesn't cause acne. Giving up chocolate won't cure acne or pimples, according to a famous test at the University of Pennsylvania. In the test, 65 acne-plagued adolescents ate the amount of chocolate in 1 pound of bittersweet chocolate a day for a month. For another month, they ate a dummy chocolate bar. Their acne was no worse on the real chocolate than on the fake chocolate.

**Helps lactose intolerance .Chocolate makes milk easier to digest if you are lactose-intolerant. Researchers at the University of Rhode Island found that adding 1 1/2 teaspoons of cocoa to 1 cup of milk blocked cramping, bloating and other signs of lactose intolerance in half of 35 subjects. Cocoa stimulates lactase enzyme activity, they found.

**Also, researchers at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego recently found that chocolate contains anandamide, a chemical that mimics marijuana's soothing effects on the brain (this must be why I run for chocolate when stressed).

**Tests show chocolate contains antibacterial compounds that may discourage, not promote, tooth decay.

**No link to hyperactivity -Some contend that eating chocolate (or sugar) causes hyperactivity, aggression or other behavior problems, notably in children. But several scientific studies have found no evidence of that. In fact, some research finds sweets calm many children.

**Tastes really, really good!

Chocolate Cons (I don't like any cons with chocolate but in the name of fairness....)

**Chocolate's greatest crime is that it usually is combined with animal fats, dangerous trans-fats and sugar in high-calorie, bad-fat baked goods.

**Can cause heartburn. Chocolate is a common culprit in heartburn, according to tests by Donald O. Castell, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania. The reason: Chocolate contains concentrations of theobromine, which relaxes the esophageal sphincter muscle, letting stomach acid squirt up into the esophagus. If you suffer from heartburn, he advises, go easy on chocolate.

**Does contain caffeine. Most people have no negative reaction to small amounts of caffeine. If you're sensitive, you should know how chocolate stacks up with caffeine sources:
5 oz. brewed coffee has
85mg caffeine
5 oz. loose tea or 1 tea bag, 30mg
6 oz. cola, 18mg
1 oz. chocolate candy, 6mg
5 oz. cocoa or hot chocolate, 4mg
6 oz. chocolate milk, 4mg

Fun Fact
The average American eats almost 12 pounds of chocolate a year (double that for me
). World chocolate consumption rises 3 percent a year, while cocoa bean production rises just 1.5 percent. To avert an eventual shortage, growers are working to increase production. Source here.


  1. i love this post! really! great one! and another reason to say yes to chocolate.

  2. Great post! It's geed to know that chocolate is a brain food because it's one of my guilty pleasures. Now I won't feel as guilty!

  3. I've always said we have cravings for a reason, even the chocolate cravings are GOOD for you! Great post.

  4. Health Nut:

    Fortunately, I have never had the urge to pig out on candy - of any kind. But my wife is an absolute chocolate nut. We frequently have heated discussions about the pros and cons of chocolate, and she loves to read any positive news about the dark stuff. I don't blame her, of course, because even though I don't eat much candy, I do like chocolate. It's just one of those things.

    Happy trails.

  5. CHOCOLATE RULES! I stock up on the stuff. This is a great post indeed. I should make my doctor and dentist read this. It would keep them from giving me that lecture about candy.

  6. We used to have arule in our house that there had to be chocolate in the house. My daughter has inherited my love for chocolate as well as my love of coffee (sometimes together!) I used to hear her screaming from the kitchen..."Dad, you're breaking the rule. there is no chocolate in this house!" Funny coming from what was at the time a little seven year old.

  7. I wonder, are you or anyone else aware of any kind of 'low fat' dark chocolate? Just curious, as that might offset one of the 'cons'

    Having said that, Godiva and Dove are my favorite brands of dark chocolate!

  8. "...mimics marijuana's soothing effects on the brain.", this is new information for me. :-)

  9. Great post Heidi! It's always wonderful to see that there are more pros than cons to chocolate!

  10. oh, you made me so happy, hihihih, as i really love chocolate, and i know i used to have chocolates before any test when i was still in school before, i always justify my act by saying my brain needs energy for so much thinking :) but actually, i am now but just a moderate chocolate eater since i only eat it now when i really crave for it that if i will deny myself i know i will just eat more other things, if i get that feeling, i eat chocolate.

  11. I think I am short of my 12lbs. . . . guess I better get to eating some to get me to be average.

  12. Wow! That's really good news cos I'm a chocolate lover too! But I still say, eat in moderation because there's really no perfect food in this world. Every food has its good and bad points, so eating everything in moderation is the way to go. Of course for those food which has more health benefits (like chocolates?) we should eat more, but never to the extreme.

  13. Hi Heidi - I just love your posts ... here I am and I haven't yet had any breakfast and I'm imagining eating a rich square of 81% rich dark chocolate! I discovered a brand of chocolate that is both rich and smooth and inexpensive. I'm not sure if it's available in the US but it is made by J D Gross - they do a wide range of chocolate bars made from cocoa beans from all over the world and at a cost that is half of other chocolate manufacturers. Here in the UK they are only 99 pence - I've chomped my way through several areas of the world including the Amazon and I'm currently on a block of Arriba. This is from a plantation close to Rio Esmeralda in Ecuador where the beans are grown in volcanic soil.

    Anyway - see how I'm drooling .... what I was going to add was that many people don't realise that chocolate has amazing properties. Firstly, and especially if you are a woman it is a good source of iron so a square or two a day does wonders to keep the blood rich. Secondly, it helps loosen the bowels.

    Now see what a chocoholic I am!

    In England quite recently they showed someone eating raw chocolate beans and apparently they are very good without the added ingredients of either sugar or fat. As yet I've not seen them available in the shops but I am looking out for them. I think this could be the magical answer for most of us. We could eat the beans without any guilt attached.

  14. Sorry Heidi I got carried away on one of my most favourite subjects.

    I hope that you and your family are keeping well.

    Have you still got your amazing tan? If so, you will certainly look well for Christmas - not like a snowman like me!

  15. This is wonderful news indeed! Chocolate is the perfect food.

  16. Just one more reason for me to eat chocolate!
    Really though, this is very interesting information, thanks!

  17. woohoo! i couldn't agree more, news on chocolate keeps getting better and better. more ways to love the yummy treat. great post heidi.

  18. Hey Heidi...for the past year or so I've been craving chocolate and before that I could take it or leave it...not sure why the cravings but works for me!!

    I'm lactose intolerant so that is another reason for me to indulge in chocolate...:0) you've made my day!!!


  19. Hi, I enjoyed your post and wanted to let you know. I'm still recovering from my shoulder surgery, getting better every day, but still have difficulty typing for long periods of time.


  20. This is the best news I've heard all week! I'll be sure to stock up on some dark chocolate :)

  21. You sure seem to research this stuff pretty deeply, Heidi. From what I can find, most of your technical data on dark chocolate is "right on."

  22. Thanks for the comment on my blog!!!
    interesting information..chocolate offers Buy one get one free advantage...good health with taste :)

  23. Just a little extra note - this morning they have announced that Belgium have produced a new type of chocolate that doesn't contain standard sugar. The type that it contains doesn't attack the teeth. We'll all have to look out for that one ... do you think that it will taste as good? Is there anyone out there who has tried it yet?

  24. Good morning stopping by to see any good health tips. Have a great day.

  25. This is a wonderful post...chocolate...yay!!! :) Thanks for the great info.

  26. That is awesome i'm off to eat some chocolate. I do have lactose intolerance so maybe it will help.

  27. There IS such a thing as healthy chocolate. Without the bad fats, refined sugar and the cocoa beans are cold processed retaining far more of the precious anti-oxidants than even the best normally-processed dark chocolate. Just see my blog and follow the links. Launching UK Jan 2009, already in US, Canada, Japan, Aus and NZ

  28. wowwww you said 12 lbs a year.
    I better catch up. LOL

    this was a great psa.
    Encore, Encore !!

  29. I have a terrible sweet tooth so thanks for the good and not so bad news on chocolate. I'm convinces that I need more.

  30. What a great information, I didn't know we can benefit from eating of chocolate. But I believe, everything will be on moderation.

  31. Oh, Black chocolate?

    That's my favorite!

    But I never eat them at night, Yeah, I am afraid of getting fat.

  32. Love chocolate, loved the post!

  33. Now here is a post that I love! I am going to print that out I think. I think you need to emphasize the point - TASTES REALLY REALLY GOOD.


  34. Dark Chocolate just happens to be the best chocolate anyway. So what I read from this post "keep doing what you're doing!"


  35. I love your blog Heidi, thanks for the comment you left on mine.

    This is one of my favourite topics as well - although I mostly don't eat sugary stuff I have a daily fix of 70% dark chocolate cos I love it.

  36. I am not a huge chocolate lover but my 3 yr old is and Godiva is his fav, gotta love that!

  37. It's true that dark chocolate is good, but NOT milk chocolate!!
    Something that shouldn't be confused... :)

  38. i'm dancing around in little circles right now as i eat my chocolate bar!!

  39. I love dark chocolate (acquired taste) and count a little square of it a day as one of my favorite energy boosts!



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