CHOCOLATE lovers are invited by Musselburgh’s Queen Margaret University (QMU) to take part in a study to help uncover its superfood health value.

From now until May, men and women aged 50 to 60 can eat chocolate and benefit from free expert advice on healthy lifestyles and how simple changes to dietary habits can improve their overall health.

Volunteers will be offered a free initial health check – including weight, body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure tests – before participating in the research. People who are eligible and complete the study will also receive advice about their current diet.

The study also involves taking part in some assessments that look at the effects of chocolate or cocoa powder. These include a series of cognitive tests, questionnaires and body composition tests.

Responding to global challenges of an increasing ageing population, scientists at QMU are keen to find out whether consuming antioxidant-rich chocolate or cocoa powder can play a role in maintaining and preserving brain power and general health as people age.

Research in this area is already showing that antioxidant-rich food and drink may have a range of health benefits.

Researchers at QMU have extensive experience of assessing the antioxidant content of a wide variety of food. A number of studies have identified the nutritional and health benefits of antioxidant-rich foods such as sea buckthorn and various types of tea and fruit juices.

Along with certain fruit and vegetables and red wine, cocoa is a very concentrated and valuable source of antioxidants in the diet. Varying levels of antioxidants found in these everyday products can have a positive effect on heart health and mental function. They can also help protect the body’s cells from damage and are important in the fight against disease.

Dr Iain F Gow, who is leading the study, said: “There is a lot of media interest around the role of chocolate in health and prevention. The purpose of this study is to continue exploring this area to try to understand if and how these antioxidants affect our cognitive abilities as we age.

“This research is an opportunity to explore how some of the everyday components of nutrition and diet might possibly exert a positive role on ageing.”

To take part, contact Ruth Ashaye, Centre for Health Activity and Rehabilitation at QMU, at