A team of Italian scientists from across multiple disciplines have combined their expertise to review currently available data sets, in order to finally get to the bottom of the ways in which chocolate may actually be improving our lives and minds. The team, including scientists from the Universities of L'Aquilla and Rome, have come to some surprising conclusions that will be a godsend for those of us still trying to justify our high-cocoa lifestyle. Not only have they reiterated the known cardiovascular benefits that cocoa can have, especially on otherwise healthy people suffering from sleep deprivation, but they have also suggested a number of otherwise overlooked benefits to cognitive performance in both the short and #Long Term.

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The team have suggested, "cocoa as a new interesting nutraceutical tool to protect human cognition and counteract different types of cognitive decline". Meaning that as humans are living increasingly longer lives, exploring the role of chocolate in protecting the mind's functionality into our twilight years is of supreme importance.

Flavanols

The active ingredient thought to responsible for the health benefits described in the review's conclusions are Flavanols, a naturally occurring plant based Phyto molecule. As of yet there is very little understood about the specific processes causing Flavanols to have the effects they do and as such, there has been an understandable level of scepticism of Flavanols ##Health Benefits. It took up until 2014 for the European Food Safety Authority to approve products containing over 200mg of Flavanols to be considered dietary supplements.

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Even then this was only done with regards to Flavanols known effects on "cardiovascular elasticity" and with a view that a lot of #chocolate products have their Flavanol content removed inadvertently during manufacture. In addition, there is the fact that a lot of chocolate containing products are often high in salt, sugar or fat and so consumption of these products in pursuit of Flavanol benefits can lead to various other #health risks if not managed correctly.

What's next?

The researchers responsible for the review have called for a more thorough and deliberate investigation into the specifics of the processes causing the observed cognitive protection. This would include long-term neural imaging series and targeted experimentation to elucidate on and quantify the differences between immediate and lasting effects of Flavanols. This sounds like good news for anyone wanting to start a career as a long term chocolate tester.

With this review concluding on a potential multitude of undiscovered benefits waiting to be unlocked inside chocolate, it appears the sky may be the limit for how much one of humanities, favourite snacks could actually help keep us healthy and happy into old age.