There are many reasons why you might want to give someone chocolate on Valentine’s Day. There’s the tradition of it, and the idea of sweets for your sweetheart. Here’s another tempting reason: certain compounds in chocolate, called cocoa flavanols, have recently been linked with improved thinking skills. But will a gift of chocolate boost your valentine’s brain power?
Italian researchers tested the effects of cocoa flavanols in 90 healthy 61- to 85-year-olds whose memories and thinking skills were in good shape for their ages. Participants drank a special brew of cocoa flavanols each day. One group’s brew contained a low amount of cocoa flavanols (48 milligrams [mg] a day), another’s contained a medium amount (520 mg), and the third’s contained a high amount (993 mg).
After eight weeks, people who consumed medium and high amounts of cocoa flavanols every day made significant improvements on tests that measured attention, executive function, and memory.
Flavanols are a type of plant nutrient found in many foods and drinks, such as tea, red wine, blueberries, apples, pears, cherries, and peanuts. They are particularly abundant in the seeds of the cacao tree—cacao beans. Fermenting, drying, and roasting cacao beans yields cocoa powder, which is used to make chocolate.
Flavanols in cocoa have been studied for many years. They have been shown to help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, prevent blood clots, and fight cell damage.
4 Cups Milk
1 ¾ Cups Sugar
½ Cup Cornstarch
1/3 Cup Cocoa
2 each Eggs
1/8 tsp. Salt
1 ½ Tbsp. Margarine
- In a double boiler, heat milk and salt together.
- In a separate bowl, beat eggs; stir in sugar, cornstarch & cocoa.
- Add a little hot milk to the egg mixture (about a cup – to temper). Stir well and add to the milk in the double boiler.
- Stir well and cook until pudding is thickened.
- Cool in fridge before serving.