Research links dark chocolate to wisdom

By Father Dennis Meinen
View from the Scooter

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction,” Mark Twain quotes.

I am so blessed by my interactions with folks that daily impress humanity with their priceless pearls. One time I met with a resident and her daughter to thank them for a gift of chocolate. This kind 104-year-old resident gave a “suggestion” to her daughter to propel a Hershey chocolate my way. They knew that seven days without chocolate makes me weak.

Did you know: Brains of older people are slow because they know so much. Thanks Sarah Knapton, Science correspondent.

Did you know: Older people do not decline mentally with age. It just takes them longer to recall facts because they have more information in their brains, scientists believe.

A dermatologist once said, much like a computer struggles as the hard drive gets full up, so do the elderly take longer to access information. Dermatologists say this slowing down is not the same as cognitive decline.

“The human brain works slower in old age,” said one expert, “but only because the elderly have stored more information over time. The brains of older people do not get weak. On the contrary, they simply know more.”

Also, older people often go to another room to get something and when they get there, they stand there wondering what they came for. It is not a memory problem; it is nature’s way of making older people do more exercise and chocolate fires one up to do more!

So there you have it. There is a link between chocolate and the wisdom of our old folks.

As further evidence, the best “brain food” might be chocolate. A new study out in The New England Journal of Medicine makes a connection between chocolate and a person’s giftedness. The study links a country’s chocolate consumption and the number of Nobel Prize winners that country has created.

The link is especially obvious in Switzerland, Reuters reports.

And guess who leads the pack? The Swiss, of course, closely followed by the Swedes and the Danes. The U.S. is somewhere in the middle of chocolate consumption and Nobel Prize winners per capita. To produce just one more laureate, the nation would have to up its cocoa intake by a whopping 275 million pounds a year, according to Dr. Franz Messerli, who did the analysis.

“The amount it takes, it’s actually quite stunning, you know,” Messerli chuckled. “The Swiss eat 120 bars – that is, 3-ounce bars – per year, for every man, woman and child; that’s the average.”

“I attribute essentially all my success to the very large amount of chocolate that I consume,” Eric Cornell, an American physicist who shared the Nobel Prize in 2001, told Reuters.

“Personally I feel that milk chocolate makes you slow in mind, thought and movement,” he added. “Now dark chocolate is the way to go. It’s one thing if you take milk chocolate like a medicine. But if you want a physics Nobel Prize, it pretty much has got to be dark chocolate.”

Do what you can where you are with what you have. For one of your New Year’s Resolutions, I hope one of your “haves” is chocolate. If not, I might have to propel a Hershey chocolate your way.

    Father Dennis Meinen serves as chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, Sioux City, for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the diocese and Calix; and Faithful Friar of the Garrigan 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Sioux City.


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