Two recent studies show dark chocolate consumption reduces stress and inflammation, while improving memory, immunity, and mood. Research presented at the Experimental Biology 2018 meeting shows that consuming dark chocolate that has a high concentration of cacao (minimally 70% cacao, 30% organic cane sugar) has positive effects on stress levels, inflammation, mood, memory, and immunity.
While it’s known that cacao is a major source of flavonoids, this is the first time the effect has been studied in human subjects to determine how it can support cognitive, endocrine, and cardiovascular health. “For years, we have looked at the influence of dark chocolate on neurological functions from the standpoint of sugar content — the more sugar, the happier we are,” said Lee S. Berk, DrPH, associate dean of research affairs, School of Allied Health Professions and a researcher in psychoneuroimmunology and food science at Loma Linda University, who served as principal investigator on both studies.
“This is the first time that we have looked at the impact of large amounts of cacao in doses as small as a regular-sized chocolate bar in humans, and we are encouraged by the findings. These studies show us that the higher the concentration of cacao, the more positive the impact on cognition, memory, mood, immunity, and other beneficial effects.” Researchers said the studies require further investigation, specifically to determine the significance of these effects for immune cells and the brain in larger study populations.