Dark Chocolate Intake May Reduce Fatigue and Mediate Cognitive Function and Gray Matter Volume in Healthy Middle-Aged Adults

Behav Neurol. 2022 Dec 13:2022:6021811. doi: 10.1155/2022/6021811. eCollection 2022.


Background: Dark chocolate has attracted attention for its potential for cognitive improvement. Though some reports indicate that dark chocolate is good for cognitive function, others raise doubts. This inconsistency in past results reflecting the relationship between dark chocolate and cognitive function indicates the potential existence of factors that mediate between dark chocolate intake and cognitive function.

Methods: With the hypothesis that fatigue may be one such mediating factor, we performed a four-week randomized control study to seek a link between dark chocolate consumption, cognitive function, fatigue, and the brain in middle-aged adults.

Results: We found that dark chocolate reduced mental and physical fatigue, and a path analysis revealed that it enhanced vitality, executive function, memory, and gray matter volume both directly and indirectly. Fatigue reduction was also associated with an improvement in physical function, which had a positive impact on emotional functioning, relief of bodily pain, and social functioning.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that dark chocolate may help reduce fatigue in individuals, leading to improvements in brain health and various cognitive functions as well as in quality of life.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cacao*
  • Chocolate*
  • Cognition
  • Gray Matter
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life