By now, we already know that chocolate can be good for us in a number of ways, from reducing stress to improving cardiovascular health. While many of these health effects are most strongly linked to dark chocolate, even milk chocolate brings some benefits to the table.
But the story doesn’t end there. Researchers are continuing to study chocolate’s potential upsides, and new studies regularly link chocolate to even more benefits than we already thought. Here are three of the newest reasons why chocolate may be good for your health.
It may improve cognitive function.
One long-term study found that nomming down on chocolate on a regular basis is related to improved cognitive function, regardless of other eating habits. That means the brains of health nuts and fast food lovers alike may benefit from chocolate consumption.
Just what are researchers referring to when they talk about “cognitive function”? As reported in the Washington Post, this study found that chocolate eaters performed better than non-chocolate-eaters on a number of tests looking at abstract reasoning, mental state evaluation, scanning and tracking, working memory, and visual-spatial memory and organization. The evidence was so strongly in favor of chocolate’s cognitive benefits that the study’s authors speculate chocolate may be helpful in staving off age-related cognitive decline.
In recent years, similar research has found that chocolate may improve concentration, stimulate blood flow to the brain, increase motivation to work, and provide a mental energy boost. Researchers believe these benefits are due to the flavanols found in chocolate. If you are an avid running, kayaker, or like to cycle, you might be able to challenge yourself to cover more distance after eating a few bites of your favorite bar.
It may be a natural cough suppressant.
When you’re battling a nasty cough, stock your medicine cabinet with cocoa. That’s the conclusion of a recent study which found that cocoa may help suppress a cough even better than regular cough medicine. In this large study, patients who consumed cocoa enjoyed decreased cough frequency, reduced sleep disruption, and overall symptom improvements within a mere two days.
This research follows an older study that found an alkaloid in cocoa may be even more effective than codeine at treating a cough. Researchers believe cocoa provides these benefits by reducing irritation in the mouth’s mucous membranes and creating a protective film over the nerve endings that are responsible for stimulating a cough.
It may reduce the risk of stroke and diabetes.
Past research has already found a positive correlation between chocolate consumption and cardiovascular health. Now a 2016 study has taken things a step further by finding that daily chocolate consumption could help reduce the risk of stroke. That same study also found that daily chocolate consumption was correlated to a lower risk of diabetes and insulin resistance.
What new chocolate-induced benefits will research discover next? Only time will tell. In the meantime, if anyone criticizes you for your chocolate habit, you can let them know that you’re doing it for your health.