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Keywords:

  • chocolate;
  • cognition;
  • flavanols;
  • methylxanthine;
  • mood

A systematic review was conducted to evaluate whether chocolate or its constituents were capable of influencing cognitive function and/or mood. Studies investigating potentially psychoactive fractions of chocolate were also included. Eight studies (in six articles) met the inclusion criteria for assessment of chocolate or its components on mood, of which five showed either an improvement in mood state or an attenuation of negative mood. Regarding cognitive function, eight studies (in six articles) met the criteria for inclusion, of which three revealed clear evidence of cognitive enhancement (following cocoa flavanols and methylxanthine). Two studies failed to demonstrate behavioral benefits but did identify significant alterations in brain activation patterns. It is unclear whether the effects of chocolate on mood are due to the orosensory characteristics of chocolate or to the pharmacological actions of chocolate constituents. Two studies have reported acute cognitive effects of supplementation with cocoa polyphenols. Further exploration of the effect of chocolate on cognitive facilitation is recommended, along with substantiation of functional brain changes associated with the components of cocoa.