High-cacao chocolate can help sharpen your attention, according to research from Northern Arizona University, and a different study published in the journal Appetite shows that your chocolate snack could be improving your memory and general brain health. But don't pick out a bar that'll just set you up for a sugar crash. The researchers found that after eating 60 percent cacao, participants had brain scans showing they were more alert and attentive. "A lot of us in the afternoon get a little fuzzy and can't pay attention, so we could have a higher-cacao-content chocolate bar and it would increase attention," said Larry Stevens, PhD, researcher and professor of psychological sciences at Northern Arizona University.
More: 7 Real Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Be advised, though—participants also had increased blood pressure. The good news is a cup of green tea may counteract this. When the researchers added a green tea amino acid, L-theanine, to chocolate, participants still had increased focus, without the blood pressure spikes. "It's remarkable. The potential here is for a heart-healthy chocolate confection that contains a high level of cacao with L-theanine that is good for your heart, lowers blood pressure, and helps you pay attention," Stevens said.
(Full disclosure: The study was sponsored by Hershey.)
Just make sure you're not making one of these unfortunate chocolate mistakes that could inhibit any of the health benefits.