It's not just coffee: Chocolate makes you smarter and may protect against age-related decline

 
Catherine Neilan
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Get stuck in - it will help improve your memory and reasoning (Source: Getty)

If you're looking for a reason to break your Lent pledge and scoff a load of Easter eggs a few weeks early, look no further.

Scientists claim that chocolate is not just good for your health - it also makes you smarter.

A new study, published in the journal Appetite, claims eating chocolate on a weekly basis not only have lower hypertension and rates of type two diabetes, they also had "significantly higher" cognitive scores than those who never or rarely ate the good stuff.

Chocolate intake was "significantly and positively associated" with the outcomes of tests including visual-spatial memory and organisation, working memory, scanning and tracking, abstract reasoning, and the MMSE (mini-mental state examination), researchers found.

There were no associations observed between chocolate intake and verbal memory, however.

Dark and milk chocolate appeared to be particularly effective compared with white chocolate, and results were strongest 90–120 minutes after being eaten. The results also suggest it can help "possibly protect against normal age-related cognitive decline".

Georgina Crichton, a nutrition researcher at the University of South Australia, told the Washington Post the results suggested you would be better at daily tasks "such as remembering a phone number, or your shopping list, or being able to do two things at once, like talking and driving at the same time".

However researchers also noted that those who ate more chocolate tended to drink less alcohol, and speculated that "higher income individuals may purchase and consume more chocolate, and in particular dark chocolate, which has a higher flavanol content".

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