Sweet! Studies say dark chocolate can boost mood & memory, decrease stress

Great news about dark chocolate. Turns out it doesn't just taste good. It may make you smarter, according to a pair of studies from Loma Linda University.

Researchers discovered that consuming dark chocolate that has a high concentration of cacao -- a minimum of 70% cacao with 30% organic cane sugar -- can boost your mood, immunity and memory, and reduce inflammation and stress levels. 

Apparently it's the cacao that hits the sweet spot for chocolate, literally and figuratively, when it comes to its health benefits.

Dr. Lee S. Berk was the principal investigator on both studies. He said, "For years, we have looked at the influence of dark chocolate on neurological functions from the standpoint of sugar content -- the more sugar, the happier we are. This is the first time that we have looked at the impact of large amounts of cacao in doses as small as a regular-sized chocolate bar in humans over short or long periods of time, and are encouraged by the findings."

"These studies show us that the higher the concentration of cacao, the more positive the impact on cognition, memory, mood, immunity and other beneficial effects," Berk says.

ABC News' Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jen Ashton notes it was a small study -- only five people were the lucky test subjects -- and obviously eating too much chocolate isn't good for you. However, in addition to the benefits noted by the new studies, it's already known that dark chocolate is also packed with antioxidants, adding even more health benefits for chocolate lovers.

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