A Tasty Way To Keep Your Brain Healthy

Science Fields

Attention chocolate lovers! New studies suggest that chocolate with high concentrations of cacao has brain-protecting benefits.

Cacao is a rich source of flavonoids which are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that benefit the heart. Cacao is a fatty seed of the fruit of the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao. Cacao powder contains up to 50 mg of polyphenols per gram. The product we love, chocolate is made by combining cacao liquor with cacao butter and sugar.

70% cacao is the way to go

Dr. Lee Berk (School of Allied Health Professions) and colleagues did two studies to examine the effects of consuming dark chocolate on human immune and brain function.

For the first study, the researchers observed the Electroencephalography (EEG) response to eating 48g of dark chocolate (70% cacao and 30% organic cane sugar) after a period of 30 and 120 minutes. They specifically focused on the activity of gamma frequency (25-40 Hz). The study participants were five in total and ranged in age from 22-40 years old.

Gamma waves are considered to be the fastest brain activity. This type of wave is involved in cognitive functioning, learning, memory, and information processing.

The researchers suggest that “this superfood of 70% cacao enhances neuroplasticity for behavioral and brain health benefits.”

For the second study, the participants (4 experimental, 1 control;  25-50 years old) were instructed to eat 48g of dark chocolate every day for 8 days.

Blood samples were taken from the participants at baseline, 2 hours after chocolate consumptions every day, and at the end of the study period. The researchers found an increase in gene expression involved in the activation of T-cells (white blood cells that help us fight infections). According to the findings, there was greater gene expression by the end of 7 days.

Lee Berk explains that “These studies show us that the higher the concentration of cacao, the more positive the impact on cognition, memory, mood, immunity, and other beneficial effects.”

Would you like a piece of chocolate?


  • 1. https://www.fasebj.org/doi/10.1096/fasebj.2018.32.1_supplement.878.10
  • 2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321618.php
  • 3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/gamma-wave
  • 4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4696435/