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Your brain on chocolate

August 16, 2017

About the Author

photo of Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School. … See Full Bio
View all posts by Robert H. Shmerling, MD


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lakshmi dey
August 26, 2017

Happiness Quotient high. Tastes great but in moderation

Paediatrician now 83 hence geriatrician in a retirement facility

August 25, 2017

This article mentioned cocoa-which is the processed cacao which has a different nutritional value as raw cacoa. I thought the benefits often cited relate to cacoa and not cocoa, which because it’s been roasted at high temperature, lowers the entire nutritional value and enzyme content. I make my own chocolate using cacoa butter, raw cacao powder and fruits and nuts without sugar. Tastes amazing!

Sugandha Biswas
August 24, 2017

Haha! Rob, this article is worth reading(ofcourse a chocolate lover).
But apart from a healthy and sharp brain, there are other mind-boggling benefits of eating chocolates like killing obesity, increasing the life expectancy etc.

miriam cohen
August 22, 2017

I knew it all along! Chocolate (dark, 70 % and up ) is food for the Gods! I’m sure it helped scientists and writers win the Nobel prize. Indeterminate studies to the contrary, I will continue to savour this delectable treat!
Miriam Cohen

August 22, 2017

You go girl!!

Bob Lang
August 22, 2017

Don’t forget, cocoa powder has very little sat fat; while dark chocolate has a high content of that artery clogging fat. Better suggestion, drink skim milk and cocoa powder. There are many commercial mixes off the grocery shelf that make “instant” hot chocolate and are low cal too.

August 21, 2017

So. This article says essentially nothing. Maybe…More study needed…there are no details re: the number of people, how much chocolate they ate, or the percentage of cocoa. Oh! And you could probably get the same benefits, assuming there are any, from fruits and vegetables.
A few minutes of research brought me to a quote by the author of the initial paper Schmerling cited: “Messerli said the whole idea is absurd…”
I totally agree. Not even a resounding maybe.
“Yet despite decades of research, there are no highly effective treatments for dementia.” Maybe because there are too many ‘researchers’ wasting time studying chocolate.

August 22, 2017

I admit, I came to the same conclusion and at the end of your paragraph I laughed so hard. Thank you for saying what I thought. I wasted my time, yet I had a feeling I would. I just love chocolate.

Robert Benson
August 21, 2017

About 30 years ago I read an article about the benfits of flavonoids in dark chocolate. I have taken 1/2 oz everyday since. I have not been able to state if there has been a change in me but I have noticed a change in the block sizes and packaging but at only 80 I figure in another 20 years I should be able to give a full report on the benefit it has provided me.

Angela Cheney
August 21, 2017

I’ll eagerly await your results in 20 years!

August 22, 2017

I am 76 and hope to be around to read your full report.

Ivan Stanley MUJABI
August 21, 2017

This article was really an eye opening one especially on some of the benefits of dark chocolate and other flavanols present in other foods.. My QN is; has the daily maximum dose /amount been established, so that we avoid the overconsumption as its associated with health issues?And what are those health problems ass/w overconsumption..?

Violet Ewing
August 21, 2017

Interesting theory on brain power relative to Chocolate.
Since chocolate has been consumed for thousands of years in Mexico , and the rest of the Americas, with the drink , and mole sauces , more geniuses should be borne from these areas .
Also, the health factor could be studied regarding the Parkinson’s ailment, not common in People with origins from the Americas, even though many may have Iberian roots.

David Hanson
August 21, 2017

We eat cacao nibs every day – these have no added sugar or fat.

andrew goldstein
August 21, 2017

For many of us, it’s not particularly critical to have to “prove” another positive effect of dark chocolate consumption. We already have the experience of eating it. Nevertheless, an ounce or two of putative health benefit will do very nicely thank you.

August 21, 2017

What about the carcinogenic cadmium content in some commercially available cocoa?

donn cavnar
August 21, 2017

i have been making my own chocolate out of pure 100% cocoa powder using water and splenda and a little vanilla that’s it for about ten years, not much calorie and no fat that i know of, i don’t know why all these modern day super nutritionists haven’t figured that out, tastes great by the way. DONN CAVNAR GARDNERVILLE ,NV

August 21, 2017

Splenda no good– use pure stevia, make sure not adulterated with sugars

Eduardo Tuesta
August 21, 2017

Thanks, Dr. Shmerling. Very interesting your article. I have a question, Does chocolate have any antidepressant properties? Thank you!

Ruth White
August 18, 2017

Why is the Harvard Women’s Health Watch newsletter more expensive than the Harvard Men’s Health Watch?

August 21, 2017

Very good question. Might someone answer this please?

This is coming from a young woman with traumatic arthritis undergoing double knee replacements that worsened my health and reading that most orthopedic surgeries are done to younger woman with way less success…..hmmmmm…is this still a mans world? Sad

Sarvika Bommakanti
August 17, 2017

Dr. Shmerling, thank you for the article, it was very interesting to read! I had a question regarding flavanols, are there different kinds of flavanols? For example, are the flavanols present in cocoa different from the flavanols present in vegetables? Thank you!

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