A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
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By Nina Pajak

Do we have to talk about Ebola? I don’t want to. The more I talk about Ebola, the higher my fever feels and the more gastrointestinal symptoms I begin to notice. The experts have weighed in, De Blasio and Cuomo are entering hour 52 in what appears to be a continuous, never-ending press conference on NY1, and new, strict quarantine policies have been instituted (and contested, and debated). I will say this, though: while I am no expert in anything involving the medical or public health fields, I am an expert in being a panicked, hypochondriacal, paranoid, edgy New Yorker. And if not putting any limits on the movements of people with possible exposure to Ebola means then having to go overboard in an attempt to clean up the potential mess (cleaning entire bowling alleys, sending out medical detectives, TOTALLY FREAKING OUT), why shouldn’t we tighten up regulations on the front end? Clearly, they’ve got some kinks to work out so that no returning volunteers are ever made to feel like anything but the selfless heroes they are. But after the Dallas debacle and the many CDC PR nightmares of the past few weeks, I think our city and state officials are acting responsibly.

Anyway, despite my expertise in panic, I don’t feel the least bit at risk unless I’m talking about Ebola or listening to someone else get all frothy talking about it. So let’s do that thing I do and change the subject. To . . . puppies! No. Sharks? Nah. Beer? I know: chocolate.

A small, three-month study of people aged between 50 and 69 (who would probably take umbrage with being called “old”) has proven that antioxidants found cocoa may stave off dementia and improve memory function in old age. Basically, the people who were given a drink high in cocoa “flavanols” performed better in tests than those who drank the low flavanol beverage. This could mean that consuming more chocolate in middle and old age will one day be doctor’s orders. And what a day that will be!

Sidenote: the study was apparently funded, in part, by the good people at Mars, Inc. You know, the candy bar people? But don’t worry, I’m sure Dr. Wonka was completely impartial in his methodology.

Seriously, though, what they found is real and the results were apparent in a very small group over a short period of time. Which means that further research is definitely warranted, and you know what? Good for the Mars company. Why not? Chocolate is ancient and awesome and delicious and flavanols sound so made up that they must be real and important. No word on whether a super concentrated diet of chocolate gives one a bigger leg up, nor at what age the changes to the brain really start to take effect. Like, if someone has been pounding chocolate products steadily for her entire adult life in a fashion that some might describe as compulsive or even abusive, for instance, might she one day have the brain of a computer? Just hypothetically. Asking for a friend.

Nina Pajak is a writer living with her husband, daughter and dog in Queens. Connect with Nina on Twitter!