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Taking Hot Cocoa Can Boost Cognitive Performance, New Study Finds

According to researchers at the University of Birmingham drinking hot chocolate can temporarily make one smarter. The researchers evaluated 18 healthy individuals given hot cocoa to drink and were found to perform cognitive tasks well.  Researchers used non-invasive near-infrared spectroscopy to examine blood oxygenation levels in the subject after they drank hot cocoa.

Cocoa consumption can enhance cognitive performance

The reason behind the temporarily enhanced intelligence is flavanol, which is found in cocoa. Besides occurring in cocoa, flavanols also occur naturally in vegetables and fruits such as apples, berries, grapes, and sometimes wine. The molecules have been associated with enhancing one’s mental performance.  In the past studies have linked the molecules to enhanced brain health but the new study established that flavanols can stimulate brain-blood oxygenation levels. As a result, this indicates that one can think faster and efficiently conduct cognitive tasks.

Flavanols are also beneficial to the cardiovascular system but they also increase blood oxygenations. According to the study, flavanols increased blood oxygen saturation in the individuals that took hot cocoa thus enabling them to perfume cognitive tasks easily. Individuals who took flavanol-rich cocoa performed tasks 11% more efficiently than those that didn’t.

Flavanols can be found in vegetables and fruits

The study aimed to empower people to be conscious of the food they eat and drink. Lead study author, Dr. Catarina Rendeiro said that they used cocoa in the study but flavanols are common in most vegetables and fruits. Rendeiro said that understanding the cognitive benefits of consuming a particular food can help in offering enhance guidance in the choices people make about their diet.

Rendeiro said that results from the study demonstrated the benefits of consuming flavanol-enriched drinks but once a task becomes complicated. This is linked to enhanced blood oxygenation and when you are challenged your brain will need high blood oxygen levels to perform a task. Equally the study suggests that when performing cognitively demanding tests flavanols can be very beneficial. The study found enhanced accuracy and speed in individuals that regularly took cocoa.

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