Chocolate intake linked to prevalence of Nobel Laureates

Eat chocolate and get the Nobel Prize? Well, not exactly. According to research from Kings College London and the Wellcome Trust, countries with the highest chocolate intake per capita also have higher numbers of Nobel Prize winners.

No, this does not mean that chocolate inherently makes you smarter. That said, there is some evidence to suggest that cocoa may have positive effects on health and memory, so read on before throwing that bar in the trash.

Population study
The United States population is larger than that of most countries, and boasts a high number of Nobel Laureates. But while Americans eat a lot of chocolate, it may not be the right kind boost cognitive function, according to the London study.

If chocolate had a home, it would be Switzerland. According to the study, the Swiss eat 120 85-ounce chocolate bars per capita annually. While many countries, the United States included, often add milk dilution, Switzerland rarely does so, leaving its chocolate with higher levels of flavonoids, the key ingredients thought to provide chocolate with its "super-food" qualities.

Sweden was an odd exception in the study, producing more than twice as many Nobel Prize winners as expected based on its chocolate consumption of 6.4kg per capita annually. Researchers pointed out that while this may have minor health implications, the information is skewed because the Nobel Committee is Scandinavian, which could make it harder for Swedes to be awarded.

One explanation for the study's results could be that chocolate may improve cognitive performance, but another explanation might be that complex economies have more access to education and workforce resources, and that these economies also tend to have more access to chocolate, too.  The future will tell if chocolate truly holds a place among the century's super foods, but in the meantime, let's work with what we know.

Health effects
Dietary flavonoids have been shown to improve cognitive performance in animals, and the evidence is strong that they may do the same for humans. Dark chocolate is high in potassium, copper, magnesium and iron. Copper and potassium are thought to improve heart health, and iron and magnesium are thought to help regulate blood pressure. In addition, dark chocolate is high in dietary fiber and thought to help reduce "bad" cholesterol.