Brain Foods Series: Cocoa for your Cranium

For the month of August, we’re focussing on foods that fuel your body’s powerhouse: Foods for the Brain.  

Research has shown that the right food, or the properties found in certain ingredients, can enhance mental capabilities. 

Eating the right foods can help you concentrate, keep you motivated, improve memory, speed reaction times, diffuse stress and perhaps even prevent brain ageing.

A National Treasure 

Us Brits go crazy for cocoa. 

It has been a much loved commodity since its introduction in Europe by the Spaniards a few centuries ago and has turned us into a nation of chocoholics. 

From its origins as a drink served hot, this versatile ingredient has reinvented itself more times than Madonna to keep our cravings at bay. 

But through these various creations, the goodness of the cocoa bean has been watered down with other ingredients and we’ve lost touch with its powerful properties. 


Cocoa for your Cranium 

Good quality dark chocolate and cocoa powder are packed with antioxidants and brain-boosting compounds, including flavonoids which are a group of antioxidant plant compounds that gather in the areas of the brain that deal with learning and memory.

Researchers say these compounds may enhance memory and also help slow down age-related mental decline. 

The highest levels of cocoa flavanols are found in raw cocoa since cooking degrades the flavonoids, but they’re still found to a lesser extent in dark chocolate.

Dark chocolate also contains phenylethylamine (that’s fun to say), a psychoactive compound dubbed the “love drug.” It gives you a buzz similar to being in love as it encourages the production of feel-good endorphins which bind to opiate receptors, causing feelings of euphoria. This explains why we feel sooo good when we eat chocolate!

The Chocolate Choice

A large proportion of chocolate on the market has a high sugar (or sweetener) content to make it more pleasing to our palate and often contains a low percentage of actual cocoa, so this isn’t a free pass to overindulge on the sweet treats. 

Making the right choice when it comes to brain boosting cocoa doesn’t have to be confusing. For the highest level of antioxidant properties, look for raw cocoa (or cacao). For a delicious treat, look for 70% (or higher) dark chocolate; If it’s single origin or single estate you’ll get a fruitier taste which we love.

We recommend JK’s Fine chocolates as they have high quality, great tasting Vegan friendly chocolate. Working closely with the farmers and growers to ensure fair wage and exceptional flavour.