Consuming chocolate is usually discouraged by nutritionists as it can be high in fat, calories, and sugar. However, cocoa – the primary ingredient obtained from the seed of cacao plant is found to have a large number of qualities that could be beneficial for the body as well as the mind.
Most importantly, pure cocoa is very nutritious and is a rich source of antioxidants, food that can prevent or decelerate cell damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive and unstable molecules generated by the body in response to environmental stresses, which are associated with diseases and aging. In addition, cocoa is found to help regulate blood pressure and prevent cognitive decline.
Despite a number of potentially advantageous properties, chocolate bars rarely contain only cocoa but also oils, sugar, butter, and other ingredients that are unhealthy for the body. The healthiest type of chocolate is thus likely to be dark chocolate containing high percentages of cocoa.
A trio of researchers at Isfahan University of Medical Science, Iran recently carried out a study on rats to investigate the impact of different dark chocolate on synapses in a specific region of the brain.
The findings are published in Nutritional Neuroscience. It suggests that consuming dark chocolate could have beneficial effects on the brain of individuals who are undergoing chronic isolation stress.
Although stress causes brain dysfunction, consuming dark chocolate has positive effects on brain functions, said the researchers. The current study investigated impact of different DC dietary patterns on plasticity and synaptic potency in the hippocampal CA1 region as well as body weight and food intake in rats undergoing chronic isolation stress.