Chocolate May Protect Against Cognitive Decline

Monday, July 10, 2017

A recent Italian review explored the effects of flavanols from cocoa beans on different aspects of cognition, both short-term and long-term. The cocoa flavanols lead to enhanced cognition though improving blood flow to the hippocampus – a region involved in memory and particularly susceptible to age-related deterioration. Randomized controlled trials in this area were few and far between, but the existing studies showed that cocoa flavanols enhanced working memory and visual processing in the short term, as well as making up for cognitive impairment due to lack of sleep in women. However, these effects were subtle, requiring cognitively difficult tests to reveal the immediate improvements. Studies looking at the long-term effects were more frequently conducted with seniors, and had more pronounced results: cognition seems to be improved in this population with daily consumption of cocoa flavanols; the impact was even more noticeable in adults with mild cognitive impairments or early-stage dementia. Lead researchers Valentina Socci and Michele Ferrara are optimistic: “This result suggests the potential of cocoa flavanols to protect cognition in vulnerable populations over time by improving cognitive performance.” The team does, however, warn about the negative impact of the added milk, sugar, and other potentially harmful ingredients on health, and suggest that dark chocolate is the way to go. “Dark chocolate is a rich source of flavanols. So we always eat some dark chocolate. Every day.”

SOURCE: Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170629101648.htm

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: Frontiers in Nutrition: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnut.2017.00019/full

DATE RETRIEVED: July 7, 2017

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