The BBC is reporting this week that chocolate consumption might actually make people smarter on average, which is something those who indulge have long known… or at least used as an excuse to forgive their cravings.
The science to back this up comes in the form of a study out of Columbia University, looking into a correlation between chocolate and a nation’s chance of producing a Nobel Prize winner. This might sound like an overly specific study with a limited sample size, but the results suggest a probability of less than one-in-10,000 of finding these results without at least some truth behind them, which is at least intriguing.
Other studies have long hinted at this correlation, including animal testing showing not only increased intelligence but a longer lifespan for rats who were fed chocolate, and increased cognitive functions in elderly patients in the early stages of dementia. This however is one of the first major and widely-publicized studies to suggest that eating chocolate is good for the minds of folks from all walks of life.
Scientists aren’t so sure that there is a direct link between chocolate consumption and heightened cognitive ability, but the results are at least interesting enough for many to look at the findings and dig a little deeper.
Sweden was the sole standout in the study, as they did not fit with the overall results. Swedish people have a relatively high chance of earning a Nobel prize, but a relatively low chocolate consumption on the whole when compared to those numbers. Because Sweden is the country in which the prize originates there is a chance that they have a cultural lean towards aspiring to it, or maybe Swedes are just naturally a cut above the rest of the world when it comes to intelligence.
One theory is that creative people are simply more drawn towards chocolate and other decadent treats, which would seem to make sense. Creative minds and critical thinkers are prone to a bit of indulgence, perhaps more than the average person.
As far as any speculation into what might actually cause chocolate to have this kind of an impact on the brain, if there is a direct scientific link to be made, caffeine may be one of the potential candidates along with simple sugar. In large quantities caffeine can have negative effects on the human mind and body, but the very small amounts of the drug typically present in cocoa should be of no concern and might actually be quite good for us. Who isn’t a little sharper after their morning cup of joe? Add a bit of a sugar rush and we’re off to the neurological races.
Most are suggesting taking the study and any conjecture around it with a grain of salt. Perhaps in a pecan pie, or with pretzels.