- Researchers have investigated whether dark chocolate’s health benefits could extend to improved immunity and brain function, CNBC reports.
- Studies from Loma Linda University's School of Allied Health Professions examined cells that fight infection and anti-inflammatory agents in the blood after participants ate one piece of 70% cacao dark chocolate every two hours they were awake for several days. The researchers also used an EEG (electroencephalogram) to examine brain activity, and said their results suggested cognitive function and creativity could be positively affected up to two hours after consumption.
- The researchers presented the unpublished research, which involved a total of 10 participants, at the Experimental Biology 2018 conference in San Diego last week.
Dark chocolate has benefited from a large body of studies examining its potential impacts on heart health in particular, and the message that dark chocolate could be good for you is translating into rising sales.
Euromonitor international has suggested that consumers don’t necessarily think dark chocolate is healthy, but that eating chocolate with good quality ingredients, in moderation, is a healthier alternative to other kinds of chocolate. Whether additional proven health benefits (beyond vascular health) would further boost dark chocolate’s popularity remains to be seen, but the heart health message has proved to be a strong motivator for consumers.
The authors of a 2016 study looking at dark chocolate's links to heart health even suggested that healthcare professionals might consider recommending daily dark chocolate consumption because of its high levels of flavonoids, compounds known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
While consumers are eager to believe that a daily dose of dark chocolate is good for them — or at least less bad than other candy — it often comes with a lot of calories, sugar and fat, meaning that moderation is still important. Still, with the rest of the candy market in decline, dark chocolate continues to be a bright spot thanks to benefits stemming from a strong health halo.