According to two new studies presented at the Experimental Biology 2018 annual meeting in San Diego, consuming dark chocolate that has a high concentration of cacao (a minimum of 70% cacao) has positive effects on stress levels, inflammation, mood, memory and immunity.
Cacao contains potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents called flavonoids, known to help brain and heart 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," says principle investigator of both studies, Dr Lee S Berk.
"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 over short or long periods of time, and 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," continues Berk who is the associate dean of research affairs at the School of allied Health Professionals.
The findings suggest that chocolate needs to have a cacao percentage of at least 70 percent in order to be beneficial.
In the first study, 70 percentage cacao chocolate was found to “[up-regulate] multiple intracellular signalling pathways involved in T-cell activation, cellular immune response, and genes involved in neural signalling sensory perception.”
Meanwhile, the second study found that same percentage “enhances neuroplasticity for behavioural and brain benefits.”
The reports conclude that consuming 70 percent cacao on a regular basis can be valuable to your immune system and memory while reducing your stress levels.
Previous research on chocolate has been funded by chocolate companies and therefore swayed.