The latest word on chocolate is the greater a country's per capita consumption of the sweet stuff, the greater its haul of Nobel Prize winners.
Chocolate supercharges brains to brilliance. Anybody with half a Snickers bar knows that.
But if you prefer plopping the proof in your chocolate pudding, cardiologist Dr. Franz Messerli reported in the New England Journal of Medicine last week that a ''surprisingly powerful correlation'' between chocolate and Nobels.
If that comes as a surprise, you're a few Hershey bars shy of full brain power.
What came first, the cocoa or the cognition?
Who cares? If you've followed this public service column at all, you know that we hold these truths to be self-evident: Chocolate is healthy, smart and a mosquito repellent.
O chocolate, is there nothing you can't do!
With Halloween candy lurking around the corner and next year's Nobels up for grabs, let's review. Chocolate will make you:
* Smarter: A study conducted at Northumbria University in Britain found that volunteers who pop the equivalent of five chocolate bars were better able to tackle complicated math problems than those who didn't. Chocolate increased blood flow to the brain.
* Stronger: A Journal of Physiology article points out that a plant compound in the sweet stuff works just at well at increasing energy cells as cycling or swimming.
* Feel good: Chocolate kicks in endorphins, the "runner's high.'' So you can either run six miles and feel great or down a Dove bar and feel even greater.
* Thinner: The body mass index of people who eat chocolate frequently is consistently less than the BMI of those less who don't, according University of California, San Diego, researchers.
* Healthier: Chocolate comes from the cocoa bean, and beans are legumes, a healthy food group that also includes peas, lentils, alfalfa and clover. So, eat a bale of hay or reach for a Kit Kat bar.
* It lowers fat: A Penn State researcher notes there is very little saturated fat - the bad fat - in chocolate. Dark chocolate has even less sat fat.
* Reduces stress: The Nestle Research Center in Switzerland, home of the Nobel Prize, fed a group of stressed-out volunteers a daily dose of dark chocolate and in two weeks, the volunteers' stress levels plummeted. Wouldn't yours?
* Lights up love: Chocolate not only triggers the runner's high, it's an aphrodisiac.
* Repels mosquitoes: Caramelized chocolate disguises the fragrance of carbon dioxide that blood-suckers use like a GPS system to find you.
There are a bunch of other benefits, too, like heart healthiness, but space fails me.
Switzerland leads in both chocolate consumption per capita and number of Nobel winners per capita. The United States comes in somewhere about the middle, so we've got some delicious ground to gain.
Messerli calculated the dose of chocolate needed to produce an additional Nobel winner to be about 14 ounces per person per year, or about nine Hershey bars.
I'll do my part. I know you'll do yours. That's why you and I are so smart.
---- Tip a Heath toffee bar with Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the Burton W. Cole fan page on Facebook.