CO­COA MAKES YOU MORE ALERT

Australian Natural Bodz - - Nutrition Knowledge Centre -

A40-g piece of dark choco­late ac­ti­vates the brain, makes you feel more awake, more alert and less sleepy, ac­cord­ing to an ar­ti­cle by psy­chol­o­gists at North­ern Ari­zona Univer­sity in Neu­roReg­u­la­tion. Yet an­other rea­son why adding a cou­ple of ta­ble­spoons of co­coa to your pre-work­out shake, as some ath­letes do, isn’t such a bad idea at all. Co­coa is a stim­u­lant Co­coa con­tains a cock­tail of in­ter­est­ing bioac­tive sub­stances, such as theo­bromine and caf­feine. It also con­tains phe­nols that are ca­pa­ble of boost­ing the con­cen­tra­tion of nat­u­ral pep-hor­mones such as adrenalin and no­ra­drenalin. So it wasn’t a huge sur­prise when Bri­tish re­searchers an­nounced ten years ago that co­coa had a stim­u­la­tory ef­fect on peo­ple with chronic fa­tigue. But un­til re­cently no stud­ies had been done in which re­searchers mea­sured the elec­tri­cal ac­tiv­ity in the brain as a re­sult of in­gest­ing co­coa. And that’s ex­actly what the re­searchers at North­ern Ari­zona Univer­sity have now done. Study The re­searchers did ex­per­i­ments with 122 stu­dents, aged be­tween 18 and 25. They di­vided their sub­jects into six groups and gave the sub­jects in three of th­ese a 40-g piece of choco­late. The choco­late they used was man­u­fac­tured by The Her­shey Com­pany, the spon­sor of the study. One group was given higher-ca­cao choco­late, which con­sisted of 60 per­cent ca­cao. The stu­dents in­gested 24 g ca­cao (which cor­re­sponds to 5 ta­ble­spoons of co­coa pow­der). An­other group was given 40 g low­ca­cao choco­late. This was white choco­late that con­tained no ca­cao, but more sugar and fat. The third group was given higher-ca­cao choco­late to which the man­u­fac­turer had added the amino acid L-thea­nine. Two con­trol groups drank wa­ter that con­tained sugar. The high-sugar group in­gested the same amount of sugar as the low-ca­cao choco­late group had in­gested in the form of choco­late; the low-sugar group in­gested the same amount of sugar as the higher­ca­cao choco­late group had been given. A third con­trol group was given wa­ter with no ad­di­tives. Re­sults The re­searchers at­tached elec­trodes to the stu­dents’ head to mea­sure the elec­tri­cal ac­tiv­ity of the brain, and took mea­sure­ments just be­fore the stu­dents were given their choco­late or wa­ter and 90 min­utes later. In the stu­dents that had been given higher-ca­cao choco­late the theta waves had de­creased. The brain pro­duces more theta waves the sleepier you are. In the higher-ca­cao choco­late group – and also in the high-sugar group – the re­searchers ob­served a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in beta waves. Your brain pro­duces more beta waves the more alert you are, and the more you aware of your sur­round­ings. Source: Neu­roReg­u­la­tion, 2(1), 3–28. doi.org/10.15540/nr.2.1.3.

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