I am an avid, daily follower of current events, but recently the news has been so depressing I am considering a hiatus from the daily habit. School shootings, deathly epidemics, war, forest fires and volcanic eruptions result in one negative story after another.
Even the elections are a barrage of negative ads assaulting the senses from all directions. A lot of noise, no substance.
Then one evening recently, perusing the news while ostensibly watching TV, which is more like watching a series of ads punctuated by three or four minutes of a show, a headline caught my eye.
“To Improve a Memory, Consider Chocolate”
Chocolate is one of my all time favorite things in the world, although I do not indulge in the decadence nearly enough.
To summarize a recent scientific study, ingredients in chocolate - antioxidants called cocoa flavanols - were found to increase memory in older adults. The study involved men and women aged 50-69. The group performed at a level equated with people two to three decades younger. The increased memory function occurred following three months drinking a cocoa flavanols mixture.
A word of caution – this does not mean one can sit back and eat candy bars all day and all night. The article makes it pretty clear that processed chocolate, especially milk chocolate, has this wonderful ingredient squeezed out of the final product, usually a candy bar.
The bad news (if there is such a thing as bad news when it comes to consuming chocolate) is that a person would have to eat the equivalent of seven – 7 – dark chocolate bars every day to ingest enough flavanols to be effective, about 300 grams.
It sounds like a tough job, and as much as I would love to do it, I know my body would at some point rebel.
So what are the alternatives?
There are other foods containing flavanols, but in lesser amounts, including tea, apples, and red wine.
One hypothesis is that an individual can reduce the amount of chocolate eaten on a regular basis and memory will improve over a longer period of time. Scientists have not done follow-up studies to know whether or not this theory works, or figured out the best way for people to take advantage of cocoa flavanols.
They will. And, if any scientist is reading this, I am willing to volunteer for follow-up studies.
But please do not place me in the control group.
Give me the chocolate.
If I am going to eat chocolate, which will inevitably come along with fat, sugar and calories, it may as well be for a worthwhile cause.
My body for a dark chocolate bar. Or two. Or three. Every day.
A sacrifice for science, but someone has to do it.
Here are links to two articles describing the study and the results: