How Chocolate Affects Your Brain, According To Experts


While there are plenty of foods that contain magnesium, like peas, bananas, and leafy greens, chocolate is another way to get this important nutrient.

“Chocolate is […] a good source of magnesium, which may help reduce stress by suppressing the release of the stress hormone cortisol,” Melissa Nieves, LND, RD, MPH, a registered dietitian, tells Bustle. But as with anything, it should be a part of other stress-beating tricks.

While chocolate isn’t a cure-all, it can impact the brain in lots of interesting ways, including temporarily boosting your mood, and relieving stress. Now go treat yourself to some.

Experts & Studies:

Santiago-Rodríguez, E., Estrada-Zaldívar, B., & Zaldívar-Uribe, E. (2018). Effects of Dark Chocolate Intake on Brain Electrical Oscillations in Healthy People. Foods, 7(11), 187. doi: 10.3390/foods7110187

Haskell-Ramsay, C., Schmitt, J., & Actis-Goretta, L. (2018). The Impact of Epicatechin on Human Cognition: The Role of Cerebral Blood Flow. Nutrients, 10(8), 986. doi: 10.3390/nu10080986

Nehlig, A. (2013). The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 75(3), 716–727. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04378.

Scholey, A. B., French, S. J., Morris, P. J., Kennedy, D. O., Milne, A. L., & Haskell, C. F. (2009). Consumption of cocoa flavanols results in acute improvements in mood and cognitive performance during sustained mental effort. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 24(10), 1505–1514. doi: 10.1177/0269881109106923

Moreno-Ulloa, A., Nogueira, L., Rodriguez, A., Barboza, J., Hogan, M. C., Ceballos, G., … Ramirez-Sanchez, I. (2014). Recovery of Indicators of Mitochondrial Biogenesis, Oxidative Stress, and Aging With (−)-Epicatechin in Senile Mice. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 70(11), 1370–1378. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glu131

Dr. Krystal L. Culler, DBH, MA, director and founder of Your Brain Health Matters, LLC and Atlantic Senior Fellow with the Global Brain Health Institute

Tess Bredesen, cognitive health nutritionist and founder Sia Brain Health

Dr. Shaheen Lakhan, neurologist and head of R&D at The Learning Corp

Dr. Shaheen Lakhan, neurologist and head of R&D at The Learning Corp

Dr. Anna Cabeca, triple board-certified physician

Melissa Nieves, LND, RD, MPH, a registered dietitian



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