I bet you’re asking yourself what is this magical wonder drug? It’s chocolate, and with it, winning a Nobel Prize may have just gotten easier! Findings published in The New England Journal of Medicine in October 2012 show that countries with more chocolate consumers produce significantly more Nobel laureates, possibly through enhanced cognition. The study comes on the heels of mounting data showing that chocolate consumption not only improves brain function but may also offer a host of other health benefits. The American Chemical Society even devoted an entire 3-hour symposium to the ancient indulgence at their 2012 annual meeting. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’ve reviewed the recent literature purporting health benefits of chocolate.
Valentine’s Day is around the corner, which brings to mind two Cupid’s Day standbys: kissing and chocolate. Other than the fact that both are symbols of romance, what do they actually have in common? A whole lot! A small study in the UK showed that chocolate and kisses stimulate the body (and the mind) in very similar ways, with one of them (can you guess which?) out-stimulating the other.
The researchers looked at six couples and measured their brain waves when standing with their eyes open, while kissing and while letting a piece of chocolate melt in their mouths. They measured the activity of two types of brain activity — one that’s activated when you’re feeling relaxed and alert (alpha bands) and another (beta bands) that’s in action when you’re feeling alert but anxious (coffee drinking might increase this type of activity).
What researchers found is that both kissing and chocolate eating increased the type of activity signaling alertness and relaxation, but in some individuals, chocolate produced a greater effect, which also lasted longer than that from kissing. At the same time, chocolate also dampened the activity of stress-registering beta bands more than kissing did (although, granted, it’s probably less stressful to eat chocolate than to kiss in front of a team of researchers). Their conclusion? Chocolate is more stimulating (in a relaxed, yet alert, heart-beating-faster kind of way) than kissing. Here’s why..