Adding a dash of cocoa to your coffee may help you concentrate better, a study from the University of Georgia suggests.
The study from Clarkson University compared the “mental energy” effects of four different warm beverages, one with cocoa, one with caffeine, one with a combination of the two and the final as a placebo.
The study was a double-blind one: and as such the drinks were modified to taste the same. To do that, study author Ali Boolani, a professor at Clarkson, said the no-calorie sweetener Truvia was added to the drinks. Participants were also were given nose clips to ensure there was no differentiating between them.
On each day of the study, the participants were asked to drink one of the four drinks, then were asked to complete a “mental energy test.”
The results showed quicker response rates from those who drank cocoa, and those with the caffeine-cocoa concoction also had higher accuracy than those with the cocoa drink.
Along with the concentration boost, the research showed that cocoa lessened “caffeine’s anxiety-producing effects.” But take the results with a grain of salt, or rather, sugar. The study was funded by Hersheys, and the company provided the drinks.
“Cocoa increases cerebral blood flow, which increases cognition and attention. Caffeine alone can increase anxiety,” Boolani explained. “This particular project found that cocoa lessens caffeine’s anxiety-producing effects — a good reason to drink mocha lattes,”
The study found another interesting statistic in that the caffeine had a negative effect on people’s moods: when compared to the placebo group, those who had only caffeine in their drink were angrier. Consuming cocoa along with the caffeine weakened those feelings of anger along with anxiety.
Ali said there’s still lots more testing to be done, and will be looking into breaking down the chemicals in the drinks and why the effects were produced.
You can read more about the study results published January in BMC Nutrition