Does Dark Chocolate Improve Cognition?

article cognition

  March 6, 2023

Theobromine is the primary active compound in cocoa and dark chocolate.

A 2022 study of 2,845 older adults examined whether a high intake of dietary theobromine (via cacao or other sources) was associated with improved cognition.

After adjusting for a large range of potential confounders, the researchers found that a higher intake of dietary theobromine (≥43 mg per day) was associated with 4% higher executive function and verbal fluency, and 6% higher processing speed, working memory and sustained attention.

This amount of theobromine equates to approximately 5 grams of pure dark chocolate or half a tablespoon of cacao per day.

There were no differences in immediate and delayed learning abilities between the high and low theobromine groups.

Interestingly, researchers found that caffeine intake influenced the outcome.

Of the participants with the highest theobromine intake those with higher than median caffeine intakes (≥102 mg per day) showed higher cognitive function than those with lower caffeine intake (<102 mg per day).

While this type of study does not establish a causal link between theobromine and cognitive function, other preliminary evidence suggests that such a link may exist.

PMID: 35841246