How Chocolate Can Enhance Brain Function

Listen up, chocolate lovers. You’re in for a real treat. According to a 2017 study in Frontiers in Nutrition, chocolate might help out your brain. This is big news for age-related cognitive decline. As humans live longer, we’re faced with a greater risk of neurocognitive diseases. The brain’s neurons, or nerve cells, lose function and die over time. The result? Reduced mental function and, sometimes, dementia.

Regardless of age, poor cognition can interfere with independence. Even mild cognitive impairment causes memory problems like losing things and forgetting appointments.1 These issues only worsen as time goes by.2 This is why eating for brain health is so important! Luckily, delicious chocolate might be the new brain food.


What Makes Chocolate Healthy?

The power of chocolate is in its antioxidative flavonoids. These polyphenols, or plant chemicals, are thought to protect and regulate the brain. The cocoa bean is a rich source of these flavonoids, specifically epicatechin and catechin.

It also contains methylxanthine caffeine and theobromine, two ingredients that benefit cognitive function. However, the effect of flavonoids is much stronger.3


How Does Chocolate Help Brain Function?

In the brain, flavonoids protect weak neurons. They also improve neuron function, promote regeneration, and prolong survival. Basically, flavonoids are nerve cells’ biggest supporters.

Flavonoids also interact with proteins that help neurons live. This combats any injury from neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Plus, flavonoids can cross the blood-brain barrier in the areas in charge of learning memory. Examples include the hippocampus, cerebellum, and striatum.


These amazing compounds also help out the heart. Flavonoids stimulate healthy blood flow, making sure your brain gets enough oxygen.4

Can Chocolate Help Short-Term Brain Function?

Here’s more good news. You don’t need to wait years – or until the brain fails – to enjoy the perks of chocolate. Cocoa may have immediate effects on the brain, too. After eating chocolate, peripheral and central blood flow may improve. While more research is needed, scientists think there’s potential for short-term benefits.5 So, when your brain feels foggy or you can’t focus, enjoy some chocolate. It might be just what you need to tackle the day!


Healthy Ways To Eat Chocolate

As a sweet treat, chocolate gets a bad reputation. Yet, it’s possible to enjoy chocolate in a healthy way. Reach for organic chocolate with no added sugar.

1. Oatmeal

Make oatmeal decadent by adding cocoa powder or chocolate chips.


Start your morning with a decadent oatmeal. Mix in cocoa powder, or top off with chocolate chips. Add berries for even more flavor.

2. Smoothies

Add a spoonful of cocoa powder to smoothies for health benefits


Smoothies don’t have to be all about fruits and veggies. Add a spoonful of cocoa powder straight into the blender. Banana, peanut butter, and dairy-free milk are tasty pairings.

3. Mousse

Healthy mousse recipes can be nutritious and delicious.


In the microwave, melt 1 cup of chocolate chips in 30-second intervals. Give it a good stir each time. Blend 12 ounces of silken tofu, the melted chocolate, and ½ cup warm non-dairy milk. Store in the refrigerator until cooled.

4. Banana Pancakes

Choco-banana protein pancakes are both delicious and nutritious.

For a protein-packed flourless cake, make banana pancakes. Use a blender to combine two eggs and a banana. Add a heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder and cook pancakes as usual.

5. Hot Chocolate

Plant-based milk and cocoa powder make for delicious hot chocolate.

Mix cocoa powder with warm nondairy milk. In seconds, you’ve got yourself a toasty and sweet drink. Don’t forget to top it off with more cocoa powder!

Chocolate is just one way to protect your brain. A well-rounded diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grain is also vital. Practice healthy habits like limiting alcohol, avoiding cigarettes, and exercising regularly.