“Acing an Exam? Consume Chocolate Beforehand!”
As students, we always hope to be able to prepare well for exams, our brain can function easily while studying & doing assignments and ultimately get decent academic scores. Well, there might be a secret recipe for that: consuming chocolate.
Before you binge on those delicious Snickers and Kit Kat chocolate bars in the fridge, let’s take a look into the scientific claims. The research of chocolate and its impact to human’s brain function has been running for decades.
In 1970s, psychologists Merill Elias from Maine-Syracus Longitudinal Study conducted study of more than 1000 people in New York which initially aims to analyse the relationship between participant’s brain performance and blood pressure.
After conducting the study for several years, Merill decided to ask the participants regarding their dietary habits. She then compared participants who ate chocolate at least once a week to those who never/rarely eat chocolate, by giving them various cognitive-related tests.
“We found that people who eat chocolate at least once a week tend to perform better cognitively. I think what we can say for now is that you can eat small amounts of chocolate without guilt if you don’t substitute chocolate for a normal balanced healthy diet” said Merill.
Society often demonize chocolate (especially chocolate bars) due to its high content in calories, saturated fat and sugar. Eating too much chocolate will indeed increase your jeans waist size up!
However, chocolate also contains a lot of natural compounds that could reinforce our brain’s performance and processing speed such as flavonoid. Flavonoid is derived from the cocoa plant that is a part of chocolate’s raw material. Professor David Kennedy from Brain, Performance & Research Centre at Northumbria University conducted a study on flavonoid compound on human. He gave flavonoids in hot cocoa drinks to the participants and found that participants are able do calculation-related tasks more quickly and accurately.
In addition, other compounds such as methylxanthines, theobromine and caffeine in chocolate help you stay awake while studying overnight as these compounds improve your alertness and mood.
Which type of chocolate is most effective to improve our cognitive ability?
Both Merill and David studies neither specifically mention what type of chocolate that they give to their participant nor advices us what chocolate should we consume.
Is it dark chocolate or milk chocolate? Refereeing from the amount of natural compound within different types of chocolate, then dark chocolate is the most effective ones.
Dark chocolate has higher amount of cocoa content (therefore higher falavanoids content) than milk chocolate. Dark chocolate contains around 30-70% cocoa, whilst milk chocolate only contains 7-15% cocoa. Organic dark chocolate is the best, since it contains at least 70% or higher cocoa content.
Dark chocolate also contains much less sugar than milk chocolate, therefore you don’t need to worry that your jeans waist size will be getting bigger 🙂
Dark Chocolate. Source:Flickr