If there’s one thing that people love more than chocolate, it’s science claiming that chocolate is good for you. The most recent is a study that found a link between eating chocolate and improved cognitive performance. However, given how much fat and sugar most chocolate also contains, are the reports of its benefits worth taking seriously?
This new study, based on nearly 1,000 people from New York, is not the first to link chocolate to brain function, but what it actually tells us remains very vague. But one cannot tell whether clever people like chocolate or chocolate makes you clever.
Can chocolate help you lose weight? It was certainly widely reported last year, but in fact, the news turned out to be a scam, perpetrated by the science journalist John Bohannon to prove how susceptible the media is to pseudoscience. Bohannon did conduct a real trial with some people eating chocolate and some not, but he measured so many things about them that he knew some sort of fluke “effect” would probably show up. And what do you know? The chocolate-eaters happened to lose weight; the abstainers didn’t.
There are mountains of research papers claiming that chocolate prevents heart attacks and strokes. Some, such as a 2012 analysis of 37,103 Swedish men, look quite authoritative, showing that the rate of stroke among middle-aged and older men was 17% lower among those who ate a lot of chocolate, despite controlling for other factors.