Does Chocolate Improve Memory?

Medically Reviewed

It's well-established that eating chocolate and cocoa is linked to cardiovascular benefits. Now, a study in the May 2016 issue of Appetite suggests that eating chocolate regularly is associated with positive cognitive performance as well.

Study participants, including 968 individuals from 23 to 98 years of age, completed a dietary questionnaire to indicate how often they ate a variety of foods (including chocolate, of course): never, seldom, once a week, two to four times a week, five to six times a week, or once or more each day.

Using a battery of standardized tests, investigators then assessed various aspects of participants’ cognitive function, including visual-spatial memory and organization, abstract verbal reasoning, and overall cognitive functioning.

The analysis showed that scores for most aspects of cognitive function rose with the level of chocolate intake, regardless of other dietary habits. Even after investigators adjusted these findings for demographic and other factors, most of these positive associations remained.

But if you reach for that chocolate bar, keep in mind that though this study did not ascertain what types of chocolate participants ate, earlier research indicates that flavanols—naturally occurring compounds found in high concentrations in dark varieties of chocolate—likely account for this food’s beneficial effects.

Read more about how to boost your brain with food.