If your attention needs some help after a long day of working, this could be the treat for you. (Photo: Davide Illini)
It’s 3 p.m. and the mental fogginess is setting in. According to a small new study sponsored by Hershey, chocolate — specifically, dark chocolate — could be what you need to get your attention back on track.
Researchers at Northern Arizona University found that snacking on chocolate with high cacao content seemed to improve brain alertness and attentiveness as gauged by EEG testing (which measures electrical activity in the brain). The findings are published in the journal NeuroRegulation.
The study included 122 people ages 18 to 25, whose brain activity was measured after they consumed a 60 percent cacao chocolate, a 0 percent cacao chocolate, a 60 percent cacao chocolate that had L-theanine (an amino acid found in green tea that has relaxing effects) added to it, sugar water, and regular water.
Stimulating effects were found after the study participants consumed the 60 percent cacao chocolate.
“A lot of us in the afternoon get a little fuzzy and can’t pay attention, particularly students, so we could have a higher cacao content chocolate bar and it would increase attention,” study researcher Larry Stevens, a psychological sciences professor at the university, said in a statement. He emphasized that it was the high-cacao chocolate that had the beneficial effects on attention — so don’t expect a regular milk chocolate bar that’s high in sugar to do the same job.
The researchers also noted that after consuming the chocolate with the L-theanine added to it, the participants experienced a drop in blood pressure levels. (While there’s no chocolate on the market right now with L-theanine added to it, the researchers noted this finding was interesting for future study.)
Of course, this is only one of the many, many reasons why you should add dark chocolate to your list of go-to foods. It’s also high in fiber and antioxidants, and has been shown to help reduce some heart risks.
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