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Chocolate Can Help Solve Mental Math Problems

Update Date: Aug 11, 2012 08:33 AM EDT

A new study claims that eating chocolate can improve the brain's ability to solve math problems. Also, an intake of flavanols, the compounds found in chocolate, makes it less likely to feel tired or mentally drained, and authors of the study suggest that it could be beneficial for mentally challenging tasks.  

"For things that are difficult to do, mentally demanding things that maybe crop up in your work it could help," Prof David Kennedy, director of the brain, performance and nutrition research centre at Northumbria University, and a co-author of the study said.

Flavanols work by increasing the blood flow into the brain. 

For the study the researchers asked 30 volunteers to count backwards in groups of three from a random number between 800 and 999 generated by a computer, reported Telegraph. 

After the volunteers were given 500 mg of flavanols, they showed more accuracy and speed in calculations. 

However, when the volunteers were given the same task in groups of seven, which according to the researchers described is a more complex task, requiring a slightly different part of the brain, they did not do as well. 

The findings revealed that the volunteers did not get tired even after being asked to do the task repeatedly for an hour.  

The amount given to the volunteers was too much to be found naturally in the diet, but the compound is also available in fruits and vegetables and researchers suggest lots of flavanols intake on a regular basis.

"You can get bars of chocolate that have 100mg of flavanol, and we are also going to look at the effect of lower doses of flavanol on the brain." Emma Wightman, one of the study's lead researchers was quoted as saying by Telegraph. 

Flavanol content is higher in dark chocolate when compared to plain or milk chocolate. 

"The amount that you are giving is more than in the diet but there is quite a lot of evidence that general amounts are protective against declining function and that kind of thing. The more fruit and vegetables and things that are high in polyphenols the better that is for your brain in the long run," Kennedy added.

The study was presented at the British Psychological Society annual conference in Brighton.

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