Researchers say eating dark chocolate can change your brain wave frequency, providing benefits in memory improvement and stress reduction. It’s well-known to most people with a sweet tooth that dark chocolate can be a healthier indulgence.
The sweet treat is packed with fiber and antioxidants, which help prevent cell damage from free radicals. It may also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, improve blood flow, and lower blood pressure. Now, a study from Loma Linda University Health in California that was presented last month at the Experimental Biology 2018 annual meeting, sheds more light on the benefits of dark chocolate regarding its effect on brain waves related to memory and recall.
Lee Berk, DrPH, associate dean of research at the School of Allied Health Professions at Loma Linda University, along with his researchers, used 48-gram bars of dark chocolate that were made from 70 percent cocoa beans from Tanzania.
“What we pointed out was that the consumption of antioxidants has the capability to change your brain frequency — a beneficial brain frequency called gamma,” Berk told Healthline. “The gamma frequency is up-regulated, enhanced, turned on by virtue of the chocolate antioxidants.”
Brain waves come in different frequencies, somewhat like a radio. The gamma frequency is the highest frequency and “associated with the highest level for cognitive processing, for memory, [and] recall,” explained Berk.
As the website Big Think explains, gamma waves address complex functions like information processing, improving memory, and decreasing stress. The positive effects — or enhanced neuroplasticity, as researchers put it — that eating dark chocolate can have on the brain happens within half an hour.
“[In] this particular study that was presented, we were able to show that after we have subjects consume… a chocolate bar with 70 percent cacao, that after 30 minutes, they had a massive, massive, large increase of gamma frequency in a major area of the brain — that is the back area of the brain and the right side of the brain.” The increase in gamma frequency brain waves stuck around for several hours.
“We continued to monitor those [test] subjects so that after two hours we were still able to observe — although decreased — a gamma frequency present,” Berk said. “So, it lasts for quite a while.”
This research could be applied to improving cognitive function, especially in aging populations. It suggests that there’s a possibility that one of the benefits of dark chocolate is fine-tuning those cognitive processes as they erode.
“As human beings, as we tend to lose cognitive process — that is, we don’t think as well as we would like to,” Berk explained. “As we age, we lose the ability for optimal cognitive thinking, our processing and memory, and recall.”
He added: “If we indeed can enhance gamma frequency, we might benefit.”