The acute electrocortical and blood pressure effects of chocolate

Michelle Montopoli, Larry Stevens, Constance J. Smith, George Montopoli, Stephanie Passino, Somer Brown, Lena Camou, Katie Carson, Shannon Maaske, Kathleen Knights, William Gibson, Joyce Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective: The present study investigated the effects of consuming chocolate on electroencephalograph (EEG) frequencies and localization and on blood pressure. Method: Across six conditions, 122 participants consumed either higher (60%) cacao chocolate, low (0%) cacao chocolate, higher cacao chocolate + L-theanine, high sugar water, low sugar water, or water. EEGs, blood pressure, and mood were measured before and after a 60-min digestion period. Results: Analyses indicated a decrease in frontal, parietal, and temporal theta and an increase in occipital beta EEG following the consumption of a 60% cacao confection compared with control conditions. Diastolic blood pressure increased with the consumption of higher cacao chocolate when compared to water alone and to higher cacao chocolate + L-theanine. Diastolic and systolic blood pressure decreased following consumption of higher cacao + L-theanine chocolate, averaging 4-8 mmHg. No condition-specific mood changes or gender differences were found. Conclusions: This study suggests an acute stimulating effect of cacao on the human brain and vasoconstrictive effects on peripheral vasculature, the latter of which appear to be offset by an L-theanine additive. Significance: This is the first known study to investigate acute EEG effects of consuming chocolate and suggests a potential attention-enhancing effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-28
Number of pages26
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • Blood pressure
  • Cacao
  • Chocolate
  • Cocoa
  • EEG
  • L-theanine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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