Credit: © Getty Images

Good news for your afternoon chocolate fix: It's making you smarter.

No, we're not indulging delusions here. The journal Appetite recently published a study by researchers who used data collected from a Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study (MSLS), in which 968 people between the ages 23 and 98 were evaluated based on what they were eating, their cardiovascular health, and cognitive functions.

The researchers discovered excellent news: More frequent chocolate consumption was "significantly associated with better performance on [cognitive tests including] visual-spatial memory and organization, working memory, scanning and tracking, abstract reasoning, and the mini-mental state examination."

Cocoa flavanols, which account for the health benefits, are found in all kinds of chocolate, but more so in dark chocolate, so for the best health results, stick to dark chocolate. "Chocolate can improve cognitive function because studies have shown increased cerebral blood flow caused by cocoa flavanols in chocolate. The sugar and caffeine in chocolate also provide instant energy and alertness. If you choose to indulge in chocolate, choose a high quality dark chocolate. The health benefits of chocolate are mainly due to the polyphenols found in cocoa. As the cocoa content of chocolate increases, so do its health benefits. A typical milk chocolate bar will contain about 30% cocoa, while premium dark chocolate contains more than 70% cocoa," says Lisa De Fazio, MS, RD, a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist.

So, go ahead and order that brownie. It's the smart thing to do.