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In our culture, candy comes out at special times—when you’re giving holiday gifts to friends and family, decorating a gingerbread house, taking your kids tricking-or-treating, or indulging yourself for a moment.

Just as birthday parties get kids excited (not only the cake), these activities contribute to a good mood.

 

Sweet Truths:

Chocolate Might Help Grandpa Think More Clearly

Emerging research suggests that naturally occurring compounds in cocoa, called flavanols, may sharpen your mind. An August 2012 study found that regularly eating cocoa might help improve brain function in elderly people with mild cognitive impairment. See more about chocolate and health.

Reference: Chocolate and Cognition 

Sweets May Make You Seem Sweet

One recent study shows that people who like sweet foods often are more social. Participants who were given candy reported feeling more agreeable, independent of their mood, and they were more likely to volunteer their time.

Maybe this is why when we look at people who like sweet foods, we may expect that they are pleasant to be around or why we use “sweetie” as a term of endearment.

Reference: Sweet Perceptions

Chocolate Consumers May Be Happier

Another study suggests that chocolate can give you a sense of well-being.

Researchers studying a group of more than 1,200 elderly men found that those who preferred chocolate had better subjective health, optimism, and feelings of happiness than other candy consumers. They also had lower body mass index (BMI) and thinner waists, which may have boosted feelings of health and well-being, too. See more about chocolate and well-being.

Reference: Chocolate and Happiness

Chewing Gum May Help You Concentrate

Emerging research suggests that chewing gum also may help you focus your attention—perhaps on how much you’re enjoying its sweet taste.

References: Gum and Concentration

See how candy can fit into a healthy lifestyle, in How to Treat Right.

 


 

 

References:

Chocolate and Cognition:

  • Desideri G, Kwik-Uribe C, Grassi D, Necozione S, Ghiadoni L, Mastroiacovo D, Raffaele A, Ferri L, Bocale R, Lechiara MC, Marini C and Ferri C. Benefits in Cognitive Function, Blood Pressure, and Insulin Resistance Through Cocoa Flavanol Consumption in Elderly Subjects With Mild Cognitive Impairment. Hypertension. 2012; 60(3):794-801.

 

Sweet Perceptions:

  • Meier BP, Moeller SK, Riemer-Peltz M, Robinson MD. Sweet Taste Preferences and Experiences Predict Prosocial Inferences, Personalities, and Behaviors. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2011; 102(1):163-74. Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21875232

 

Chocolate and Well-Being:

 

Gum and Concentration:

  • Johnston et al. Brief Report: Gum Chewing Affects Standardized Math Scores in Adolescents. Journal of Adolescence. 2001: 1-5.
  • Smith A. Effects of Chewing Gum on Cognitive Function, Mood and Physiology in Stressed and Nonstressed Volunteers.  Nutritional Neuroscience. 2010;13: 7-16.