Want to prevent senility and keep your blood pressure down? Drink cocoa.

Did you know that chocolate could save your life? Two new studies are adding fuel to the claims that chocolate will make your life incredibly better.

The first study looked at how flavanol-packed cocoa affected elderly patients experiencing mild cognitive impairment. Flavanol is a chemical in some chocolate that acts as an antioxidant. Subjects were tasked to drink either 990 milligrams (high), 520 mg (intermediate) or 45 mg (low) of a dairy-based cocoa flavanol drink daily for eight weeks, while other flavanols were cut from their diet. The result? A noticeable improvement in certain mental tasks. Those on the high and intermediate levels of the cocoa were faster to complete mental tests, had a higher verbal fluency, were better able to relate visual stimuli to motor responses, and showed improved working memory, and task-switching. They also saw a drop in insulin resistance, blood pressure and oxidative stress.

Meanwhile, a Cochrane Library review looked into the effects of cocoa on blood pressure. This meta-analysis looked into studies of consuming chocolates (and again flavanols), and saw a small but noticeable record of decreased blood pressure. The data covered everything from 30-1080 mg of flavanols in 3-100 g of chocolate each day, and flavanol-rich chocolate or cocoa by an average of 2-3 mm Hg. That's a pretty small drop, but it's something.

So go ahead, and hit that chocolate. Just do it, as one of the researchers put it "as a part of a calorie-controlled and nutritionally-balanced diet."

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