Warning: This news will make you want to eat dessert immediately.
The newest brain food could be cocoa—but only if you eat all of the chocolate (!) and in its purest form, according to new research conducted by Real Scientists from University of L'Aquila in Italy, and Mars, Incorporated (which produces M&Ms and Dove Chocolate and so many other things you'd gladly gorge on, regardless of the benefits.)
In the study, adults between the ages of 61 and 85 drank a dairy-based cocoa drink containing either high (993 mg), intermediate (520 mg), or low (48 mg) amounts of cocoa flavanols every day for eight weeks. Cocoa flavanols are natural substances found in fresh cacao beans that—unfortunately—tend to be destroyed when processed into treats like milk chocolate and baked goods.
The researchers tested each participant's memory and general brain response before and after the dietary intervention. Deliciously, they saw significant improvements across the board among people who consumed the most potent cocoa drinks.
While researchers don't fully understand how cocoa flavanols benefit the brain, they think it could have something to do with the way the substance improves insulin resistance, which has been linked to brain aging. Flavanols have also been found to support normal blood vessel functioning. In theory, this should promote circulation throughout the body and to the brain, and in turn, boost cognitive functioning, says study co-author Catherine Kwik-Uribe, Ph.D., human health and nutrition director at Mars.
Unfortunately, it can be a little tricky to score a similar brain boost on your own, mostly because it's so tough to figure out which foods contain cocoa flavanols. (You won't find it listed on a nutrition label, and it has nothing to do with the percent of cocoa.) To consume enough from dark chocolate or straight-up cocoa powder, you'd need to eat upward of 993 grams of dark chocolate, depending on the variety (that's about 23 standard-size Hershey's chocolate bars) or 66 grams of cocoa powder, which amounts to about 10 tablespoons. Luckily, researchers at Mars are developing flavanol-rich foods, according to Kwik-Uribe.
Until then? It can't hurt to eat a little extra chocolate.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.