October 11, 2012
Benefits Of Chocolate May Include More Nobel Laureates
[ Watch the Video: Chocolate-Eating Countries Have More Nobel Prize Winners ]
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe OnlineNew research from the New England Journal of medicine suggests that Cathy (from the comic strip “Cathy”) could one day win the next Nobel prize.
Certain plant-based foods, such as green tea, fruits and, oh yes, chocolate and red wine have already been shown to improve cognitive function and even stave off the risk of dementia. The flavanols found in these foods, magical little biocompounds that they are, have also been found to reduce blood pressure and inflammation.
But just how far do the benefits of chocolate extend? Working on the assumption that better cognitive performance means smarter people, Dr. Franz Messerli set out to determine if there was a link between national levels of chocolate consumption and the number of Nobel laureates produced by said nation.
“To my knowledge, no data on overall national cognitive function are publicly available,” wrote Dr. Messerli in the published paper.
“Conceivably, however, the total number of Nobel laureates per capita could serve as a surrogate end point reflecting the proportion with superior cognitive function and thereby give us some measure of the overall cognitive function of a given country.”
After compiling the data, Dr. Messerli arrived at a somewhat unsurprising conclusion: The nation with the most Nobel laureates also happens to be the nation which consumed the most chocolate. And that nation is Switzerland.
By the numbers, Sweden and Denmark came in a close second and third, respectively. The United States faired reasonably well in Dr. Messerli´s study, ranking somewhere in the middle.
In fact, Dr. Messerli even calculated how much chocolate a given nation would have to eat to improve their chances of producing another Nobel prize winner. If America wants to climb a few spots on this list, Messerli estimates that we´ll have to start eating about 275 million more pounds of chocolate every year, good news for Hershey, PA.
“The amount it takes, it´s actually quite stunning, you know,” said Messerli, speaking to Reuters. He explained that for every 275 million pounds we eat, we gain just one Nobel laureate — statistically speaking.
As one might expect, Dr. Messerli used the Swiss as the standard in his study, finding that the average Swiss person eats about 120 3-ounce bars every year, making them healthy and smart.
The good Dr. Messerli freely admits, however, that this conclusion is a bit unusual. But if nothing else, he says, the study proves that sometimes hard science can yield some very goofy data.
“I started plotting this in a hotel room in Kathmandu, because I had nothing else to do, and I could not believe my eyes,” said Messerli. As he lined up this data, he said the countries just fell into place neatly on the graph.
Sure, the study may be ultimately silly. Like all things in life, nothing can be achieved without a little hard work, and earning a Nobel prize cannot be broken down into a secret formula as facile as “eat more chocolate.”
However, despite his admittance that these results may border on the absurd, Dr. Messerli does suggest in his paper that, if nothing else, eating more chocolate could be a start.
“Since chocolate consumption has been documented to improve cognitive function, it seems most likely that in a dose-dependent way, chocolate intake provides the abundant fertile ground needed for the sprouting of Nobel laureates. Obviously, these findings are hypothesis-generating only and will have to be tested in a prospective, randomized trial.”
So what would this writer´s suggestion be to get America back on track?: A Cathy cartoon marathon, an extra Valentine´s Day, and free tours of the Godiva factory.