Apparently, hot chocolate doesn't only taste good... it could also make you smarter. At least that's what a new study by researchers over at the University of Birmingham's School of Sport, Exercise, and Rehabilitation Sciences found.
The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, says that hot chocolate helps in learning and solving several different things. And, it's all because of something called flavanols that are found in cocoa, tea, and apples, to name a few. The only thing is it has to be homemade cocoa. After all, instant mixes are usually filled with sugar and other ingredients.
Data from participants between the ages of 18 and 40 were studied to come up with the results. The subjects were asked to drink cocoa on two different occasions, and were give a carbon dioxide test to challenge the brain's blood circulation.
"Efficient oxygenation of the brain is key for cognition," says lead author Dr. Catarina Rendeiro. "The fact that flavanols can be effective at improving cerebral oxygenation and cognitive function even in a healthy brain is a remarkable finding, and it means that we can potentially all benefit from diets rich in flavanols."
"Unfortunately, it is difficult to know what the content of flavanols is in chocolate products as these are not [disclosed] in labels," she says. "Generally, scientific articles that have measured content of flavanols in commercially available chocolates do not seem to find any relationships between content of cocoa solids and levels of flavanols. This is mainly because the processing of cocoa to make chocolate can substantially damage flavanols."
So, you see, not all chocolate is made the same. If it helps though, dark chocolate contains the highest levels of flavonoids.