Why Hot Cocoa Might Give You a Brain Boost

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We love chocolate any time of year, under any circumstances. It simply can't be beat, whether in solid, liquid, or even aromatic form. Mostly it's an emotional pleasure, a taste that brings us to a happy place no matter what your favorite flavor profile is. Good news — it might be an intellectual stimulant too.

Researchers in the U.K. and Illinois have just published a paper into a group of a food molecules called flavonols, which we already know are good for cardiovascular health. These flavonols occur in fruits and vegetables, and the scientists wondered if they had any effect on brain health or mental acuity. Study participants who drank enriched cocoa were found to draw out more oxygen from the air around them, which was then absorbed at higher levels into the bloodstream, which significantly boosted their performance on cognitive tests.

To be fair, no one's claiming that hot cocoa is officially a performance-enhancing beverage, and this study was only carried out with 18 participants. We do know that chocolate is excellent medicine in some circumstances, such as if you're fighting a persistent cough. Definitely feel free to use this study as an excuse to knock back an indulgent hot cocoa or two when you need it. That said, it's never a bad idea anyway to chow down on flavonol-rich foods like broccoli, apples, berries, and citrus (especially if chocolate tends to make you sugar-crash). Both food types are good in their own way, whether you're eating your feelings or just trying to get ahead.