Sampling the Chocolates
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne samples chocolate during a tour of Small Business Saturday Christmas Fair at the Treasury in London, Britain December 4, 2015. Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

More concrete benefits are coming out of a new study on chocolates beyond improving the brain function. Among the new details listed on the nutritional benefits of eating this favourite dessert are improved memory and abstract thinking.

But the best thing about the study, published in the journal Appetite, is that experts recommend to eat chocolate at least once a week, reports The Telegraph.

The study had more than 1,000 New Yorkers as subject in the 1970s. Its objective was to find a link between brain performance and blood pressure, recounts Merrill Elias, a psychologist and one of the leaders of the study.

Two randomised trials discovered demonstrated improvements in cognitive function with just one single dose of chocolate or cocoa flavanols. Just within hours of eating chocolate, information processing speed and working memory improved.

Two different epidemiological studies in 2007 and 2009 and clinical trials in 2009 had demonstrated the ability of flavonoid-rich food – which chocolates are included - in improving cognitive function. Because there is no effective treatment for neurodegenerative disorders caused by aging, medical experts rely on nutritional practices that target the prevention or slowdown of cognitive decline in optimising cognitive functioning across the adult years.

Those years, The Maine-Syracuse Longtitudinal Study notes, usually come with declines in multiple domains of cognitive function, including slower memory and processing speed.

Elias asked the participants in the study 15 years ago what they were eating. In the analysis of the study, done between 2001 and 2006, by Georgina Crichton, a nutritional researcher at the University of South Australia, she noticed it gave a chance to examine the effect of chocolate on the brain with the use of a large sample size just below 1,000.

When she examined the mean scores of participants on cognitive tests, those who ate chocolate once a week had higher scores than those who had it less than once a week, linking it to superior brain function. Crichton says that superior brain function could be applied in everyday tasks such as remembering phone number, making a shopping list, or doing two things at a time such as driving and talking.

Swiss Chocolates
Products of Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Spruengli are offered in the factory shop at the company's plant in Kilchberg, Switzerland September 24, 2015. Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

The study acknowledges that chocolate is associated with pleasure and enjoyment which explains why it is a food that people frequently crave for, whether in bar, drink or cake form. That craving translated into 7.2 million tonnes of chocolate consumed globally in 2009. Given the results of this newly published study and that “chocolate is one of the first items that people in growing economy want to have,” consumption is expected to grow at astounding rates.