Why Switzerland?

Chocolate and Nobel prize winners

Image source: New England Journal of Medicine

In 2012, New England Journal of Medicine reported an amusing, but scientifically sound study, showing a “surprisingly powerful correlation” between the amount of chocolate consumed in each country and the number of Nobel Prize winners it produced.

The study’s author, Dr. Franz Messerli, writes: “Since chocolate consumption could hypothetically improve cognitive function not only in individuals but also in whole populations, I wondered whether there would be a correlation between a country’s level of chocolate consumption and its population’s cognitive function.”

The research looked at the number of Nobel prize winners per capita in 22 countries, and analyzed the information in terms of the annual per capita chocolate consumption. Switzerland came on the top of the list on both counts. Dr. Messerli’s, who, it should be noted, is a Swiss physician and a serious chocolate eater himself, concluded: “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.”

While it’s important to note that the link between the two was not presented as a cause and effect observation, the implication may be that cocoa flavanols in chocolate have shown to improve thinking and reduce the risk of dementia by increasing the blood flow to the brain, which is a measurable observation reported in the previous studies on cocoa flavanols.

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