Forget Carrots -- Chocolate Improves Vision, Too!

For better vision, snack on a sweet cocoa confection

Who says you need to eat carrots for super vision? Forget the orange crudités and dip into some dark chocolate instead. New research suggests that the good-for-you chemicals in cocoa can improve eyesight, too.

And that’s not all, says the study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior. Researchers at the University of Reading in England discovered that eating dark chocolate also appears to boost brain function. No wonder women are so much smarter than men. Is there anything our favorite mouthwatering indulgence can’t fix?

According to the study, eating what scientists call “an acute dose” (or what we would call a big slab) of dark chocolate helped participants see better in low-contrast situations. Think: yellow subtitles on a white screen (don’t you hate that?) or picking out pedestrians at night who are clad head-to-toe in black. The experiments showed that scarfing down dark chocolate before vision tests led to a 17 percent improvement, compared to test results after chowing down on white chocolate.

Past research has shown that the antioxidants in chocolate, known as flavonoids, increase blood flow to the brain. The darker the chocolate, the more flavonoids present. White chocolate has almost no cocoa in it and, therefore, zero health perks. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news to white chocolate fans.

The researchers of this study speculate that the higher vision test scores may be a product of increased blood flow to the retina and the head. In other words, not only did the chocolate make the volunteers’ eyesight keener; it also boosted their brain power, allowing them to process the visual information more accurately.

I’m filing this news under, “too good to be true.” I have never been a fan of carrots -- and my eyeglasses are about as thick as old-fashioned Coke bottles. I joke with my husband that it’s only a matter of months before I start mistaking hemorrhoid cream for toothpaste. That I can now possibly boost my vision while satisfying my monthly vampire-like thirst for chocolate is just almost too much for me to handle.

If, like me, you find yourself squinting in low-light situations, try snacking on a daily piece of dark chocolate. Just remember that, no matter how many benefits the confection contains, it is still candy, and should be eaten in moderation. After all, good vision by way of dark chocolate will not help you fit into your favorite jeans. And who cares how well you can see at night if all you can see are the extra rolls of chocolate-induced weight gain.

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