Can Chocolate Improve Cognitive Function? MRI Study

“Let food be thy medicine…” said Hippocrates. “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” added Mary Poppins, centuries later. Flash forward to the present day, when a team of researchers discover the flavanols found in chocolate help turn back the clock on memory loss. Specifically, flavanols found in chocolate increase blood flow to the regions in the brain responsible for memory retaining. Yummy!

Flavanols in chocolate found to be beneficial in memory functionThe study, called Cocoa flavanol consumption improves cognitive function, blood pressure control, and metabolic profile in elderly subjects, was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

For the research, 37 adults aged 50-69 unfortunately did not get to eat bars upon bars of chocolate. Instead, they were given a drink containing either a high (900 mg) or low (10 mg) dose of flavanol every day over a period of three months. Afterwards, the participants receiving the higher dose not only performed better on memory tests, their brain MRIs showed increased blood flow to the dentate gyrus, an important region controlling memory function associated with age-related memory issues.

“If a participant had the memory of a typical 60-year-old at the beginning of the study, after three months that person on average had the memory of a typical 30 or 40-year-old,” said Scott Small, a lead author of the study and neurologist at Columbia University Medical Center.

The researchers acknowledge that more studies involving a greater number of participants are needed in order to further confirm what their preliminary research has discovered.


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