05 April 2009

Do you drink mug of hot cocoa to send you off to sleep? Can you fall a sleep soon after drink? The truth is a mug of cocoa could be just the thing to peep you up.
Research shows that chemicals content abundant in dark chocolate, flavanols can make you stave off fatigue and boost mental sharpness. It is thought that they widen blood vessels, boosting blood flow to the brain.

Psychologists asked 30 people to carry out a battery of mental arithmetic tests before and after having a flavanol-rich chocolate drink or a dummy beverage. They found the sweet drink boosted performance on one of the tests, which involved repeatedly subtracting the number three from a start point of between 800 and 999. The flavanols also appeared to counteract the tiredness brought on by doing the intensive arithmetic, the British Psychological Society's annual conference heard.

The study, carried out at the Brain, Performance and Nutrition Centre at Northumbria University, also found that a 500mg dose of flavanols was more effective than a higher one. This being equivalent to five bars of chocolate a day, the researchers are now trying to find out if lower levels would also be of benefit.

Flavanols is categorized as polyphenols, which also you can find in red wine, tea, olive oil, onions, leeks, broccoli and blueberries. The more fruit and vegetables and things containing polyphenols that you eat, the better for your brain. Other research has credited flavanols with cutting the inflammation linked to heart disease, and with reducing the odds of dangerous blood clots. Flavanols also said can help to keep diabetes and high blood pressure under control.

One of the key attractions for many is that chocolate simply makes us feel good, stimulating the release of chemicals more normally associated with sex and exercise. Researchers have even gone as far as to claim that the smell of chocolate alone can protect against colds.

But, you should be careful, chocolate was has high content of fat and sugar content means dieticians recommend it is eaten as part of a balanced diet, rich in less appealing foods such a brown rice, pulses and fruit and vegetables.

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