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Does Drinking Chocolate Milk Improve your Memory?

Is this claim just too good to be true, we investigate

I love chocolate milk. It is one of a long list of guilty pleasures (most of which involve chocolate of some description) and arguably one of my favourites. So you can imagine my excitement when I stumbled across the findings of a study published in Nature Neuroscience (well I actually stumbled across it on Outside as I’m not actually a regular reader of  Nature Neuroscience).

Recipes: TWC’s favourite chocolately not-so-guilty pleasures

Anyway back to the important stuff – proof that something chocolate related will benefit us!

Author of the study Dr. Scott A. Small states that middle-aged participants consuming a drink high in cocoa flavonols (a type of antioxidant found in chocolate) performed better in a memory test than those who consumed less of the drink.

“If a participant had the memory of a typical 60-year-old at the beginning of the study, after three months that person on average had the memory of a typical 30- or 40-year-old,” said Dr. Scott Small, who led the study.

The drink that the participants consumed wasn’t regular hot chocolate or chocolate milk, it was actually proprietary drink made by Mars, Inc.

In addition to the improvement in memory, the study also showed signs of increased function in the brain’s hippocampus, supporting the theory that cocoa flavanols improve the brain’s blood flow.

This all sounds pretty amazing, but of course there are a couple of catches. Firstly Mars funded part of the research which despite Dr Small’s reassurance that the work was completely unbiased does make us a little sceptical.

The other downside? The 138-milligram-per-day does of the flavanol in question that was administered in the study is really hard to come by and is the equivalent to what you find in seven regular sized bars.

A perfect excuse to up our daily intake of chocolate surely? Unfortunately not. Small cautioned against using the findings to justify loading up on chocolate: “It is true that cocoa flavanols are found in chocolate; however, only in small amounts. Consuming a lot of chocolate is simply bad for your health.”

We knew it was all too good to be true.

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