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The Sweet Science Behind How Chocolate Makes You More Productive

New research suggests that the components of cocoa make you more content. And that leads to creativity. Open up and say: Yeah!

The Sweet Science Behind How Chocolate Makes You More Productive

Stop for a minute and savor cocoa’s accomplishments: battler of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease; booster of blood flow; and now, research suggests, calmer of the mind.

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While there are many excellent qualities to chocolate, research at an Austrailian university shows that the polyphenols in chocolate can make people feel more calm and contended.

So what else can the lovely stuff do?

Polyphenols are a group of badass antioxidants found in tea, walnuts, olive oil, fruits, and veggies. The polyphenols found in dark chocolate hang out with brain receptors associated with anxiety, the study authors say, in the same way that some common anxiety medications do.

“Anecdotally, chocolate is often linked to mood enhancement,” says Matthew Pase, the lead author of the study. “This clinical trial is perhaps the first to scientifically demonstrate the positive effects of cocoa polyphenols on mood.”

And how does your mood affect the work that you do?

As we’ve discussed before, when people get creative, they relax their inhibitions, allowing ideas to flow more smoothly.

The inference, then, is this: If cocoa supplies your brain with polyphenols, and polyphenols allay anxiety, and anxiety inhibits idea-flow, then mood-elevating chocolate can help your ideas stream out faster.

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Conclusion? When you grab your next bar, go dark.

“The higher the cocoa content of the chocolate,” Pase says, “the more polyphenols the chocolate will contain.”

The Candy That Calms

[Image: Flickr user John Loo]

About the author

Drake Baer was a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covered work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation.

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