May 14, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Fans of Harry Potter know that chocolate is a cure for mitigating the effects of exposure to soul-draining dementors in the JK Rowling series. However, the power of chocolate isn’t exclusive to denizens of the magical world. In fact, a growing body of evidence attests to the ability of chocolate to lift our spirits, reduce stress and even improve memory. Here’s a closer look at the latest research indicating why chocolate may be your new best friend this exam season.

From Chocolate Cravings...

We all know that chocolate tastes good. But did you know that chocolate cravings are about more than mere taste? Rather, cravings are rooted in something else: Biology. As Adam Drewnowski, Professor of Environmental and Industrial Health, Psychology and Psychiatry told CNN, “We want chocolate in times of stress, anxiety, pain and so on. Chocolate is a natural analgesic, or painkiller."

In other words, you’re not just craving chocolate because it’s sweet, creamy, and oh-so-delicious; you’re craving it because it has real benefits.

To Chocolate Cure….

The latest research backs up long-time evidence telling us that we can feel better by eating more chocolate. In fac, according to two new studies recently presented at the Experimental Biology 2018 annual meeting, consuming chocolate (dark chocolate, in particular) can make a huge difference when it comes to how we feel.

Says psychoneuroimmunology and food science research Lee S. Berk, DrPH, “This is the first time that we have looked at the impact of large amounts of cacao in doses as small as a regular-sized chocolate bar in humans over short or long periods of time, and are encouraged by the findings. These studies show us that the higher the concentration of cacao, the more positive the impact on cognition, memory, mood, immunity and other beneficial effects."

While scientists say further research is necessary in order to more directly understand the phenomenon, this much is clear: Eating chocolate is a good thing, and may be just what you need during the stress of exams. So rather than feeling guilty when you reach for that square of chocolate while studying, pat yourself on the back instead. 

Looking to contribute to making the world a better place in an unexpected way, meanwhile? Consider a career in chocolate and confectionery.

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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